History of Simsbury


Old Drake Hill BridgeHistoric Districts and the Phelps Tavern Museum & HomesteadA Photographic View of Historical Sites in Simsbury
 April 2007 Flood Photos 

A Brief History of Simsbury

In the 1640's, when John Griffin and Michael Humphrey first crossed the Farmington River at "The Falls", they were searching for virgin pine forest where they could pursue their tar and pitch business. What they found was a verdant valley bounded by two low mountain ranges, rich with fish and wildlife. The native Massacoe Indians,of the Algonquin Nation, had lived off the bounty of the rich land and flowing river. The new settlers called the valley the "Massacoh Plantation."

Between 1648 and 1661, Indian lands were gradually deeded over to the Englishmen. In 1670, the Massacoh Plantation came to be named "Simmsbury", probably after Symondsbury, Dorset, England. Many of the earliest English settlers came from Dorset, including Thomas Ford, the first to clear land and farm here.

In 1676, Indian disputes erupted into King Philip's War, and in March Simsbury was attacked by a group of Philip's warriors and burned to the ground. According to legend, their leader, King Philip, sat in the large cave on Talcott Mountain to view the spectacle. It is still called the Metacomet Ridge.

The War of the Revolution had a profound effect on the Town. Nearly 1,000 Simsbury residents, more than in any other war, served in the Revolution. One hundred Simsbury soldiers engaged in the Battle of Bunker Hill. Noah Phelps was the most noted hero, as it was his spying which led to the capture of Fort Ticonderoga by Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys.

Simsbury's earliest years tell a tale of the courage, resourcefulness, and dedication to principle that contributed greatly to the new nation.

Simsbury - The First Among Firsts
In 1705, copper was discovered in Simsbury. Later, the copper mine became the infamous New-Gate Prison of the Revolutionary War. The first copper coinage in America was started by Doctor Samuel Higley of Simsbury in 1737.

In 1728, the first steel mill operating in America was located in Simsbury.
The first temperance society - "The Aquatics" - was established in Simsbury.
The manufacturing of the first safety fuse in America started in Simsbury in 1836.
In the span of over three hundred years, Simsbury has grown into a Town with and ideal blend of heritage and commerce!


History of the Town Seal

The Town Seal pictures the Higley copper, one of the first copper coins to be minted in America; a replica of the Old Meeting House, which stands on the grounds of the Simsbury Historical Society; the Tree, a symbol of the Town's natural resources; and a family group which is the base of our whole society.

The leaves on the outer circumference of the seal represent the hop vine, from which many familiar Simsbury names are derived, and the inner circle represents a fuse, symbolic of America's first such industry which was founded in Simsbury.

The seal was chosen from among many designs which were submitted during a competition open to all residents of the Farmington Valley between September 1 and November 30, 1969.

The winning entry was submitted by Allen W. Hixon and was later adopted officially as the Simsbury Town Seal.