History of Tunxis - History

History of Tunxis - History

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(Mon: t. 614; 1. 225'; b. 45'; dr. 6'6"; cpl. 69; a. 2
guns; cl. Casco)

The first Tunxis was launched on 4 June 1864 at Chester, Pa., by Reaney, Son, and Arnold; and commissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 12 July 1864.

On 21 September 1864, the light-draft monitor departed the sheltered waters of the navy yard on her maiden voyage. However, she soon began taking on water at such an alarming rate that she came about and returned to Philadelphia, where she was decommissioned later in the month.

On 19 October 1864. Tunxis entered William Cramp and Sons' Shipyard Philadelphia, for extensive refit and rebuilding. On i2 July 1866, two years to the day since her first commissioning, the monitor emerged from the complete overhaul far more seaworthy than before. Nevertheless, since her class design had proven disappointing, she was immediately laid up at League Island Navy Yard.

On 15 June 1869, her name was changed to Hydra; and, on 10 August, this ship was renamed Ostego. In 1874, Ostego was broken up for scrap, having never seen active service.

86-Year-Old Navy Veteran Graduates in Largest Tunxis Class in History

Tunxis Community College awarded diplomas to its largest class of graduates in history in Farmington on Friday.

According to a press release from the college, 478 students received 616 associate's degrees and certificates.

The Class of 2013's oldest graduate, Peter Spano, 86, of New Britain, received the Spirit of Tunxis Award. Tunxis honored the U.S. Navy World War II veteran to thank him "for his support of our veterans and the Veterans OASIS at Tunxis, among others."

Another graduate, Jackson Kohan, 19, of Canton, had enrolled at Tunxis Community College when he was 14 as an "early entrant," skipping high school after his homeschooling was completed, according to a press release from the college. He "excelled academically" with a 3.88 GPA and earned an associate's degree in science despite struggling with dyslexia, the release stated. In the fall, he will attend Northeastern University to study economics, en route to his goal of becoming a financial advisor.

Kohan was the vice president of school newspaper, the Tunxis SUN, vice president of the "Tunxis chapter of Chi Alpha Epsilon National Honor Society," and a Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society member, according to a press release from the college. He earned the Academic Discipline Award in 2012 and 2013 and a Leadership and Service Award for work on the college newspaper.

Berlin resident Matt Machowski, 33, earned an A.S. degree in general studies after needing to return to school as a result of a "chiropractic injury from a cervical neck manipulation" that kept him from working in his field as a commercial electrician. The resulted in many surgeries and "financial difficulties," the release stated. During his time at Tunxis, he was awarded with the Tunxis Community College Foundation Excellence Award Scholarship in 2012, a President to President Scholarship that will pay for his current studies at Central Connecticut State University and a Midwest Roofing Contractors Association scholarship. He is "pursuing a bachelor's degree in construction management," a career he aspires to, at CCSU and is interning "at construction firm John Moriarty & Associates," the release stated.

Former Connecticut Republican U.S. Rep. Nancy Johnson, was the featured speaker at the ceremony.

In addressing the graduates, Tunxis President Cathryn Addy pondered over what would have happened if Catherine the Great had sent Russian troops to America around 1770 to prevent the rebellion of "farmers and merchants" seeking freedom when England's King George III asked her to do so. She said that this decision from one person overseas could have changed everything if she had agreed instead of saying "no."

"Who is to say that there won't be an occasion when one decision by each of you will change your or someone else's life?" Addy said, according to remarks provided to Patch. "That is why we must never embrace ignorance or celebrate it in someone else. It is too important and our world is changing too rapidly ever to be satisfied with not knowing, or with not trying to understand, or simply, not trying to live our lives in the best way we can. I hope that you have gained some of those decision making skills here at Tunxis."

Tunxis awards more than 60 associate's degrees and certificates in a range of majors, including but not limited to fine arts, business, health, technology, liberal arts and science, the release stated.

More than 6,000 people "enroll in credit and continuing education programs at Tunxis each semester, the press release stated.

Find out what's happening in Farmington with free, real-time updates from Patch.

For more information on "Celebrating the Native Peoples of the Southwest" or about Tunxis courses on American Indians, call 860.255.3734 or 255.3500, or e-mail [email protected] Those who are interested in attending are encouraged to arrive early.

The event is one of a series at Tunxis celebrating 40 years of education in the Farmington Valley and beyond. The College first opened for classes in October 1970 and currently offers over 60 associate's degrees and certificates, providing critical thinking and problem-solving skills that prepare students for transfer to bachelor's degree programs and employment in areas with industry need.

Not all town residents rallied to the cause of the Revolution. A few dared to take a stand as Loyalists, or Tories. As Christopher Bickford wrote in Farmington in Connecticut, the Tories …

In October 1777, General Horatio Gates defeated British General John Burgoyne at the Battle of Saratoga, N.Y., a turning point in the war. Some of Burgoyne’s officers were held as …

Windsor High School Yearbooks

The Windsor High School yearbook has been called Tunxis since its inception in 1914. Prior to this, a booklet entitled The High School Bulletin was produced at least through 1913. We have one copy of this publication in our research library, and it is dated 1911. In the early years, the Tunxis yearbook was published twice yearly with a December and June issue. Later they were called winter and summer issues. The Spring 1915 issue contained an article written by future Windsor High School class of 1916 valedictorian H. Carleton Chidsey (who still later tragically fell victim to the Spanish flu while stationed at Camp Devens during World War I), in which he explains the name Tunxis:

The name Tunxis excites no particular curiosity in Windsor, because it is heard so frequently, but it seems to have caused some interest among outsiders. We have seen it spelled, or rather misspelled, in a variety of ways, notably the “Thumpsis”, which was the address on a wrapper of a school paper from Kansas…

In the Indian language, “Tunxis” signified little crane and “sepus” or “sepos” meant river. Hence, little crane river or crooked river came to mean the little river as distinguished from the Connecticut. …The Indians very fittingly named the river “Tunxis” for its course is indeed as crooked as a crane’s neck in many places. …The River would probably have flowed on just as musically if Tunxis had been retained as its name instead of the longer and less significant Farmington. …With the coming of the English and their advanced ideas, many other fine old Indian names gave way to longer and less expressive English names. The Indian village of Matianuck became Windsor after Windsor Castle Massaco was changed to Simsbury and Granby and the beautiful village of Tunxis became Farmington.

…You will be rewarded by learning why we chose Tunxis as the name of our school paper. We wished to choose something with local significance and out of the common run names. After some debating, the editorial staff decided upon “The Tunxis” as being sufficiently local and uncommon.

Cover and a selection of ads from the Spring 1915 yearbook.

Early yearbooks were just as much literary magazine as yearbook. They contained poems and essays, as well as narratives of the year’s events in lieu of spread after spread of photographs like there have been since the mid-20 th century. Here are a few selections:

1911 – The Junior Dance

In spite of the sullen snow outside, the Juniors made jolly the interior of the Town Hall on the night of Feb. 3, 1911. This was the night of the Junior Prom. Silks, satins, blues, pinks, whites, and yellows, hobble-skirts and bosom shirts all went around to the lively music rendered by the Quish Orchestra. There were many attractive decorations, different colored banners for the colleges, including red and white for WHPS and green and gold for the class of 1912. All the patrons and patronesses as well as the dancers were tired yet happy when the music ceased at midnight.

1919 – The Freshman Dog Roast

On a lovely autumnal afternoon, the Freshman class started to Breakneck [a section of the Farmington River] on their dog roast. Upon reaching the destination, they gathered wood to build the fires, went after water, and helped bring the provisions up from the river, a couple of boys having brought the provisions up in a canoe. Claystones were found on the banks and the trees were found to be easy climbing. When supper was ready, not many were missing and hot dogs, bacon, rolls, pickles, olives, marshmallows, and chocolate almond bars constituted [their] feast.… Then they all sat around the fire and told ghost stories and sang songs. They went home about 7:30. They were properly chaperoned and had a fine time.

1920 – Enrollment

Windsor High opened her doors this year to a larger number of pupils than ever before. One hundred and twenty-seven were enrolled in the four classes. Last year there was an entering class of 55, the largest freshman class in the history of the school. Two new studies were presented for election this year: Political Economy and Business English, requiring the addition of one period to the school day.

Unique four-color cover and masthead from the Spring 1916 yearbook. WHS collections 2011.5.2. Gift of Henry Neuhaus.

Windsor Historical Society’s research library contains a nearly complete collection of Windsor High School yearbooks, and even have the years 1951-2019 scanned and on our website!

However, we are missing the following issues: 1912, 1913, 1914, 1918, 1953, 1977, 1986, and 2005. If you can lead us to copies of these issues or donate one to the Society, please let us know! Contact librarian/archivist Michelle Tom at [email protected] If you’d like to browse any of the rest that we do have, please come visit!

By Bob Silliman, director, 1997 updated by Michelle Tom, librarian/archivist, 2018.


Angelo Tomasso saw himself as blessed with great opportunity. He wanted to create a lasting reputation.

In 1910, 17 year old Angelo Tomasso Sr. arrived in New York from the mountains of Abbateggio, Italy. He served in the U.S. Army and then worked in railroad construction this work took him north to Hartford, Connecticut and subsequent work as a laborer with Hartford Electric.

In 1923, in New Britain with one piece of equipment – a steam shovel – he founded Angelo Tomasso, Inc. That same year he landed his first big job – excavating foundations for the Fafnir Bearing Company. Angelo was aggressive, driven, and opportunistic. He saw himself as blessed with opportunity and he wanted to create a reputation. He did not take success for granted. Those who worked with him described his stamina, countless hours of hard work, and remarkable accomplishments.

Among the lore of Angelo Tomasso Sr. is the account of how he drove his steam shovel overnight from New Britain to Hartford because the contract for constructing the foundation for the Hartford County Building was to be awarded to the first to arrive on site. Angelo won the contract. His reputation grew and so did his company. As the years passed:

  • He built the first section of the New York Taconic Parkway.
  • He bought a new steam shovel as each of his four sons was born.
  • He added quarry operations and a concrete plant to his company.
  • In 1941, Angelo Tomasso was responsible for the original construction of Brainard Airport in Hartford.

The Legend Grows
After World War II as the economy expanded, the company grew rapidly. During this period, Angelo’s four sons took over management of the company. Led by Angelo Tomasso Jr., Victor, George and Bill, the company began managing larger projects.

  • In 1950 they set a record by transporting 797 tons of blacktop 25 miles in one day to the Bradley Field Airport.
  • In 1968 they received wide acclaim by laying a mile of concrete each day on over three miles of Interstate 84 in Plainville, New Britain and Farmington, Connecticut.
  • In 1972 a joint venture led by Angelo Tomasso, Jr. set a world record by laying in place 18,300 tons of bitumen in 18 hours at Bradley Airport. Inspired by the contract provisions that the team could close the airfield for only 36 hours while paving a critical intersection, the major 6-24 runway was repaved in record-breaking time. The joint venture had 171 pieces of equipment in use during one day. The airport reopened on schedule, and the team won praise from the State Department of Public Works and the Department of Transportation.

The construction accomplishments of Angelo Tomasso, Inc. became legendary. The company acquired additional quarrying and mixed concrete capacity and became famous for highway construction including Routes 91 and 84, and Routes 9 and 2. The company managed redevelopment and site projects including corporate headquarters such as Emhart, Stanley Works, Aetna and Bristol Myers.

In 1972 Angelo Tomasso, Inc. was sold to Ashland Resources. In 1979 a British company bought the core of the former company, creating Tilcon Tomasso. The company’s name was changed to Tilcon Connecticut in 1990.

New Beginning
In 1968, the third generation of the Tomasso family, William, Michael, Paul and James, formed Tunxis Management real estate management and subsequently its sister company, TBI Construction. All four brothers learned the construction business while working at Angelo Tomasso, Inc.

Tunxis Management grew out of the need to manage the family’s real estate holdings. Tunxis Management’s tenant roster grew to include Fortune 100 companies, medical facilities, Government buildings, performing arts, retail plazas and private commercial and office buildings.

The TBI Construction Company’s business grew both from the extensive family background in highway construction and from Tunxis Management’s extensive, growing work in property management. In the late 1980s the Tomasso’s expanded the family construction business to focus on building large, challenging projects in the public and private sectors.

Completed TBI Construction projects include The Hospital of Central Connecticut Cancer Center, The Medical Arts Center of Central Connecticut, the Waterbury Performing Arts Magnet High School, Palace Theater historic renovation and Parking Garage, New Britain City Hall historic renovation, the Government Center Building and Parking Garage in New Britain and numerous other professional/medical/commercial buildings and schools.

A Rich Connecticut History

The Wangunk peoples as encountered by English colonists occupied present-day Middletown, Haddam, Portland, and East Hampton Connecticut. Originally located around Hartford and Wethersfield but displaced by settlers there, they relocated to the land around the oxbow bend in the Connecticut River. Before English settlement, there were at least half a dozen villages around the area on both sides of the river. The Wangunk are also sometimes referred to as “the River People” because of their positioning within the fertile Connecticut river valley. When the English settled and established Middletown on the west side of the river, the designated Wangunk reservation land was mainly on the East side of the river bend, with a small parcel on the West side, an area near where Indian Hill is today. Wongunk is also used to describe a meadow in Portland that was part of the Wangunk reservation. As the Wangunk felt pressure from the settlers for the land, they sold off portions of this land and joined either neighboring tribes such as the Tunxis (Farmington, CT), many of whom later moved with other communities of Christian Indians as far as the Great Lakes, Wisconsin, and Oklahoma.

Lake Pocotopaug is a site that has been mentioned in many different accounts of the Wangunk people as an area that they frequented for fishing and hunting. It is located in what we now call The Town of East Hampton , and is approximately 9 miles in circumference. Many arrowheads have been found along the banks of the river, and while there is little record of what the site meant to Wangunk people, settlers have spread many “Indian stories” about the lake since the 1700s, but these stories are uncorroborated.

Name Variants: Wongunk, Wongum, Mattabesett, Pyquag, River Indians, Middletown Indians, Sequins

Meaning: The people at the bend in the river

Tribal Associations: Podunk, Suckiag, Podunk, Tunxis, Mohegan, Quinnipiac, New Hartford, Brothertown

Location: Middlesex County west of the Connecticut River in present-day Cromwell, Durham, Haddam, Middletown, Wethersfield, and east of the Connecticut River in East Haddam, East Hampton, Glastonbury, and Portland.

Villages: Cockaponset, Coginchaug, Cossonnacock, Hockanum, Machamoodus, Mattabesec, Mattacomacok,
Naubuc, Pocowset, Pyquag, Suckiog

Tunxis Hose Fire Department Celebrating 125 Years

Tunxis Hose Company No. 1 is celebrating 125 years of aiding the community in Farmington, at its annual carnival and parade from July 12 through July 14.

Located in the Unionville section of town, Tunxis Hose was founded in 1893 when the House of Representatives created the Unionville Fire District.

An exhibit at the neighboring Unionville Museum explores the history of the department, covering all 125 years with photographs, memorabilia, and firefighting equipment.

The original Tunxis Hose fire house, which still stands today and is in the National Register of Historic Places, was built for the cost of $4,000 on property purchased for $600.

Jeffrey Hawkes, who is on the board of the Unionville Museum, was also a Tunxis Hose firefighter from 1981 to 1995. He curated the exhibit, which will remain on display until the conclusion of the annual carnival and parade.

"It's still the most fulfilling time period of my life," Hawkes said about his time with Tunxis Hose. "You go from sitting at the dinner table to running into someone's house pulling them out of a burning building."

That's why, for Hawkes, it was so important to be able to curate the history of the fire department that has meant so much to him at a museum that he also has a special connection to.

The department operated out of its original location until moving to its current location in 1961. The department is located right next door to the museum.

On looking back to the history of the department, and fighting fires, Hawkes said the biggest change outside of the actual apparatus - there are photos in the exhibit from when Tunxis Hose used horse-drawn carriages to fight fires - is in the training.

"The biggest change now is training," Hawkes said. "When I got in in the early 80s, we basically trained each other. You'd go for an 8-hour course for the state and that was it. You'd train the next generation coming in. Now, they have to fulfill hundreds of hours."

From 30 men and a horse cart to 52 men and women, two stations, three pumpers, two medical units, a heavy rescue truck, and a boat, the entirety of the department's history can be discovered at the museum. That also covers the 473 men and women who have worn the department's uniform in those 125 years.

Rich Higley, who has been Tunxis Hose fire chief for the last six years, has 18 years of service with the department. The department, he said, considers its history to be important to its current standing.

"It's about the celebration of the history," Higley said. "At Tunxis, we have the meeting minutes going back to 1893. We read minutes from 100 years ago at our meetings now. It's about the tradition and history."

Higley said the current members show great respect for Tunxis Hose history.

"There's a tremendous amount of respect for the history and those members that gave before us at Tunxis Hose," Higley said. "We have a lot of members who have 40, 45, 50, 55, and 60 years of service. The new kids coming in are seeing that. You don't have to tell them to respect that, they know it. That tradition carries on and that's the key."

When Higley took on his position as chief, he made it a priority to honor these landmark years of service by throwing members anniversary parties and giving them a special gift. All that comes out of their own funding, not the budget the town gives them.

Tribal Alliance

The Brothertown history and culture builds from the history and culture of our parent tribes and from the tribes and peoples we have had relationships with over centuries. Our roots are deep and our branches reach wide.

Our six parent tribes came from the following seven Indian villages:

  • Mohegan - Mohegan, Connecticut
  • Montaukett - Montauk, New York
  • Narragansett - Charleston, Rhode Island
  • Niantic - Rhode Island and Connecticut
  • Pequot - Mashantucket and Stonington, Connecticut
  • Tunxis - Farmington, Connecticut.

Links to public Web sites for some of these nations are below:

By the 1760s, so much illness, so much white settlement, and so many wars had devastated Connecticut, that a number of Quinnipiac Indians had joined the Tunxis (just as some Quinnipiac had joined the Paugusett and other tribes). These peoples and their traditions have become part of the Brothertown history and tradition, as well.

The Oneida and the Stockbridge-Munsee are also a large part of the Brothertown story.

In March 1775, the first Brothertown Indians moved to New York to land granted to us by the Oneida. Intending to live there in amity and as brothers, we called our settlement "Brothertown." One month later, the first Revolutionary War engagements took place in Lexington and Concord, but the war soon spread beyond the borders of the Massachusetts colony. The Brothertown settlement in New York was initially short lived. Although the Brothertown had begun the war professing neutrality, we soon aligned with the Americans. As a result, our settlement in New York was largely burnt out by pro-British sympathizers in 1777 and many of the early Brothertown settlers retreated east. Others of the tribe fought alongside the Americans.

During and after the war, the Brothertown remained close with the Oneida in New York and became close with the Stockbridge in Massachusetts, as many of our Tribe had settled with the Stockbridge, hoping to wait out the war. We returned to New York in 1783 in 1785 and 1788, parties of Stockbridge Indians joined us in New York, on lands granted them by the Oneida.

By the early 1800s, with white settlements encroaching on the New York land, and a reduction of the Brothertown reservation land of more than 60% by the State of New York, it became clear that another move would be needed. A move to Indiana was aborted. Ultimately, the Tribe's move west was made by the Brothertown, as well as by members of the Oneida and the Stockbridge-Munsee.

We share much with these two nations, and they have done much to protect and to enrich the Brothertown culture and history. A settlement begun so that Christian members of six tribes could live as brothers has grown to a rich, storied, and invaluable kinship.

The Founding of Hartford

About 100 Puritans, led by the Rev. Thomas Hooker, created a settlement on the banks of the Connecticut River in June 1636. Though this became Hartford, Hooker and his followers were not the first Europeans on the scene. Dutch traders had already built a fort at the confluence of the Connecticut and Park rivers. (For more on their fate, visit the Adriaen's Landing page of this site.) Nevertheless, Hooker not only created a lasting colony but a form of government that influenced the creation of the U.S. Constitution a century and a half later.

A statue of Thomas Hooker stands in Old State House Square, in downtown Hartford. Photo: Karen O'Maxfield.

See below for more on Hooker. Visit the Connecticut State Library site for a list of the other founders.

How did the city get its name?

It was named for Hertford, England, the birthplace of one of Hooker's assistants, the Rev. Samuel Stone.

Who lived in the area before the Europeans arrived?

The Saukiogs (Black Earth) occupied the Hartford area before Europeans arrived. The Podunks lived across the Connecticut River in what is now East Hartford, Glastonbury, and South Windsor. The Tunxis tribe lived to the west, in what is now the Farmington area.

Dutch explorers, led by Adriaen Van Block, appeared in 1614 shortly thereafter, an outbreak of measles or smallpox killed at least one-third of the Podunk population.

A Podunk chief, Wahginnacut, journeyed to Massachusetts in 1631 and invited the English colonists there to found a new settlement in the Connecticut River Valley. He wanted protection from the feared and hated Pequot tribe, which occupied what is now the southeast corner of the state. When the English arrived, they found the Hartford area ruled by Saukiog chief Sequassen, who in 1636 sold them the land that became Hartford and West Hartford. Saquassen fought fiercely with both the Pequots and the Mohegans, who also lived to the southeast. The Saukiogs "suffered severe defeats," according to Albert Van Dusen, author of "Connecticut," the preeminent history of the state. "As a result," he wrote, "the Saukiogs remained quite friendly with the colonists and lived near Hartford until about 1730."

What was so special about the government created by Hooker and the other founders?

When he lectured in his native England, Hooker drew large crowds - and unfriendly scrutiny from the state-supported Church of England. The Puritans had been hoping to reform, or "purify," the church, but at that point the church was purging itself of Puritans, so Hooker was ordered to appear before the High Commission, also known as "the star chamber." Instead, he jumped bond and fled to Holland.

From Holland, Hooker and a group of his parishioners made the trying and dangerous voyage across the Atlantic to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, settling in Cambridge, which was then known as Newtown. But they disliked the decidedly undemocratic ways of the colony's government and decided to investigate for themselves reports of fertile land in the Connecticut River Valley.

On May 31, 1638, exactly two years after he had set out from Newtown, Hooker delivered a sermon containing his vision of how the recently named Hartford should govern itself.

"The foundation of authority is laid, firstly, in the free consent of the people," he said. He went on to argue that the "choice of public magistrates belongs unto the people by God's own allowance" and that "they who have the power to appoint officers and magistrates, it is in their power also to set the bounds and limitations of the power and the place unto which they call them."

Historian Ellsworth Grant wrote, "These words were the first practical assertion ever made of the right of the governed not only to choose their rulers but to limit their powers."

The founders of Hartford, Wethersfield, and Windsor used this sermon and others from Hooker as a basis for their Fundamental Orders, considered by some to be the world's first written constitution. It's why Connecticut came to be known as the Constitution State. The Connecticut State Library's website has the text of the orders.

Watch the video: Simsbury Free Library presents: The History of Hartford