Way back when… 1637
Published 12:00 am, Saturday, July 15, 2017
Way back before Fairfield was even a town, Native Americans lived and worked on the lands here along the coast. The Pequot War was New England’s first major conflict, involving thousands of combatants in dozens of battles in Rhode Island and Connecticut.
In late June 1637, the English organized a final campaign against the large groups of Pequot moving west towards the Hudson River under the leadership of their grand sachem Sassacus. The English-allied force consisted of 120 soldiers from Massachusetts Bay and 40 from Connecticut along with an unknown number of Native (Narragansett/Mohegan/"River Indians") warriors. They embarked from Saybrook Fort, and first set sail for Long Island in pursuit of Sassacus. English-allied forces landed on eastern Long Island where they learned that Sassacus had left for Quinnipiac.
The attack force made landfall at Quinnipiac (present-day New Haven) and marched west along the shoreline in pursuit of fleeing groups of Pequot. The English eventually caught up with Sassacus’ group at Poquonnock (present-day Bridgeport) and tracked them to Sasquanikut, where the last major battle of the Pequot War took place. On July 13, 1637, the Great Swamp Fight was fought for 24-hours at Munnacommuck Swamp, known today as the Pequot Swamp. This battle put an end to the Pequot War. The memorial now sits on a small triangle of land between the Post Road and Old Post Road in Southport.
In the years since the 1600s, Southport has had a fascinating history that has included shipping, farming, the creating of the railroad and the arrival of wealthy families who built extravagant homes overlooking the water. Located on the Long Island Sound between Mill River and Sasco Brook where it borders Westport, the Southport community is a former borough of the town of Fairfield.
On Saturday, July 22 the Fairfield Museum will partner with the Town of Fairfield Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee to host a walking tour of Southport. It will depart from the steps of the Pequot Library at 9:30 a.m. and cover about one and a half miles in total.
The tour will touch upon the Native American tribal history, the colonial period, the war of 1812, the golden era of the Southport Globe Onion boom, the implications of the arrival of the steamship, railroad and streetcar, notable residents and other topics. Starting from the lawn at the landmark Pequot Library, the guided walk and talk will proceed south down Westway to Harbor Road to Ye Yacht Yard, back along Harbor Road to Main Street, to Southport Center at Pequot Avenue and then back to the Pequot Library.
The tour is $5 for Fairfield Museum members and $8 for non-members. Registration is required online at Fairfieldhistory.org/event/southport-walking-tour/or by calling (203) 259-1598.
The Fairfield Museum and History Center is located at 370 Beach Road. Learn more about the history and culture of Fairfield, view rotating exhibitions and purchase Fairfield-themed gifts at the Museum Shop. For more information visit Fairfieldhistory.org or call (203) 259-1598; Fairfieldhistory.org.