About Guilford's History

Located midway between New York City and Boston, and more regionally between New Haven and Saybrook, the Town of Guilford was founded in May 1639 by a band of puritans seeking religious freedom in the New World. The land was purchased from local Native Americans, who were represented by the squaw sachem (female chief) Shaumpishih, and first established as the plantation of Menuncatuck - later to become known as Guilford. Life in early 17th century Guilford was extremely primitive and resembled a medieval village for several generations, but by the 18th century, the town had become a thriving coastal community with agriculture and the sea supporting the economy; by the end of the 19th and into the 20th century, Guilford became a summer destination for Victorian vacationers from near and far. Today, Guilford’s once-small population has risen to a year-round community of more than 22,000 people. Its natural scenic beauty, its Green, its historic houses, and its thriving business community guide today's citizens of Guilford toward a promising future. (Source: Historical Overview from the Town of Guilford.) Learn more about Guilford's history below and share your own story here.

2014: An Historic Year in Review

Thank you all for a year of memories during the Town of Guilford's historic 375th Anniversary. Here are our favorite 375 memories, you can share yours here, and reminisce through the video montage below. May we all stay healthy, happy, and prosperous for the next 25 years! Photo Contributors: Peter Otis, Ben Kuropat, Steve McGuire, Courtney Gorham, Mary Beeman, Catherine Kiernan, Lisa Calderone, and historic photo reference help from Patricia Baldwin of the Guilford Free Library Please … [Read more...]

Covenant Stone Dedication

by Peter Otis Many years ago Former First Selectman and now current Selectman Carl Balestracci had identified a lovely piece of pink granite that has been turned into our Covenant Stone to display the words of the Covenant and the names of the men who signed it. On June 7, 2014 townspeople and students from the Calvin Leete School re-enacted the signing at Covenant Point across from the Henry Whitfield State Museum (Stone House).  Guilford Historian Joel Helander and a number of other speakers … [Read more...]

What Guilford Means to Me

by Betty Whiteman Abel Celebration….2014. I’ve been celebrating Guilford since I was a little girl. How very meaningful, this place I call “Home.” Fine memories take over when I start to think of what Guilford means to me. From the river to the East, the orchards to the West, the Sunday afternoon Motorcycle Climb event in North Guilford, and then the Dock and Jacobs Beach if we go South. Guilford is a small New England town that holds something very special for all those who stay awhile. I … [Read more...]

Guilford Turns its Town Green into 1860’s America

History came alive on the gorgeous spring day of May 31, 2014, when the Guilford Green was abuzz with stories, music, dance, theatre, horse-drawn carriages and more, channeling 1860's America. "Guilford & The Civil War: A Day of Tribute" took place in honor of Guilford's 375th Anniversary, commemorating the valiant soldiers who fought and gave their lives in America's deadliest war, and recognizing as well the families and entire Guilford community who supported them on the homefront. … [Read more...]

Guilford and Madison to Unite in Interfaith Prayer Service on July 13

by Dennis Culliton In celebration of Guilford’s 375th anniversary, the churches in Guilford and Madison are planning an interfaith prayer service to be celebrated on the Guilford Green on Sunday, July 13, at 1 pm.  The event is being organized by the Interfaith Committee. Led by ministers, priests and rabbis of Guilford’s and Madison’s many faiths, the congregants will celebrate their freedom of religion, freedom of expression and spirit of tolerance through this prayer service.   The … [Read more...]

Snapshot of a Civil War Soldier: William (Willie) Nelson Bartlett

Snapshot of a Civil War Soldier:  William (Willie) Nelson Bartlett The Civil War monument on the Guilford Green lists the names of Guilford residents who gave their lives for us.  Representative of these men is William (Willie) Nelson Bartlett, who died of a gunshot to the heart when he was 20 years old. Here’s what we know about Willie from his death records and his compiled service record at the National Archives and Records Administration.  The ctfreedomtrail.org website provides … [Read more...]

A Community Looks at the Role of Its African-American Soldiers during the Civil War

by Edie Brown and Tracy Tomaselli Like three other towns in Connecticut - Fairfield, Milford and Stratford - the Town of Guilford is celebrating the 375th year of its founding in 1639. Guilford's celebration will include commemorating the national Civil War Sesquicentennial with a Guilford 375th Anniversary Signature Event that celebrates the lives of Guilford soldiers and other residents during the Civil War. While preparing for the event, called Guilford and the Civil War, the … [Read more...]

Local Girl Scouts Continue the Tradition of Supporting the Military

Connecticut’s role in the Civil War was mainly one of providing equipment, arms, money, supplies and manpower for the Union Army and the Union Navy, but Guilford’s role was a more personal one. In the 1860s, just as today, virtually no family escaped the pain of war as sons, fathers, brothers, friends, and neighbors marched off to battle. The Guilford community rallied behind them, offering care and support to the soldiers and their families. The women of the Soldier's Aid Society made socks, … [Read more...]

Guilford and the Civil War

by Tracy Tomaselli Between the years 1861 and 1865, the United States was engaged in the Civil War, the deadliest war in American history. Guilford did its duty, providing men, supplies and support. The Town sent hundreds of its men off to the war; sons, fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins and neighbors. Many of these loved ones did not return and their sacrifices have been memorialized on the Civil War monument that stands proudly in the center of the Guilford Green, an homage to those … [Read more...]

Guilford and the Civil War: A Day of Tribute

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Guilford and the Civil War:  A Day of Tribute History comes alive when Guilford and the Civil War:  A Day of Tribute takes place on the Guilford Green on Saturday, May 31st, from 11 am to 7 pm.  The Guilford 375th Anniversary Signature Event commemorates the Civil War, in which more Guilford townspeople fought than in any other war. The names of 56 of these soldiers are inscribed on the pink and gray granite soldiers’ monument that stands in the middle of the … [Read more...]