Bethel covers 17 square miles of rolling hills in northern Fairfield County, 10 minutes from Danbury.

Bethel was a part of Danbury until 1855.

Around 1700 or earlier – the first settlement of Bethel.

1730s or 1740s – some of the earliest homes, such as the saltbox at 27 Grassy Plain Street and another at 63 Grassy Plain Street, were built around this time.

1759 – church members such as Ebenezer Hickok, Lemuel Beebe, Isaac Hoyt, Thomas Starr, and Phineas Judd found it both difficult to travel to church in Danbury and when there, to get a seat. They petitioned the General Assembly to form two distinct ecclesiastical societies, the First and Second Congregational Societies, creating a new second parish in the eastern portion of Danbury. The new area was called Bethel (which means house of God).

1760 – 71 people were members of the church. Bethel ran most of its affairs through the church. (Bethel's first Congregational minister was Noah Wetmore)

1760 – Captain Benjamin Hickock built the house at 245 Greenwood Avenue and used it as a tavern.

1775-1782 – American Revolution.

1777 (April) – the city's records were burned by the British in the British raid on Danbury..

Late 18th century to mid-20th century – hat manufacturing was the basis of the town's economy.

Late 1700s – P. T. Barnum’s grandfather built one of the town's earliest hotels, the Barnum Tavern. (It still stands.)

Late 1700s and early 1800s – shoemaking was another important industry.

Early 19th century – comb-making, primarily of cowhorn, was an important industry to the town.

1810 – Phineas Taylor Barnum, the great circus showman, was born in Bethel and remained there until the winter of 1834-35. He lived at 55 Greenwood Avenue. He worked as a merchant in his dad’s general store. Later he ran his own fruit and confectionery store.

1819-1835 – the Barnum Tavern run by P.T. Barnum's parents. It was later known as the Israel H. Wilson Hotel.

1820-1850 – comb-making was at its peak. There were at least 20 factories devoted to comb-making in Bethel.

1820 – Oliver Shepard, the first postmaster, appointed.

1830 – Barnum built a house for his new bride, Charity Hullet at 44 Chestnut Street (still standing).

Winter of 1834-1835 – Barnum leaves Bethel.

1842 – the original part of the library built.

1842-1843 – the Second Meeting House on Main Street built.

second half of the 19th Century – tobacco for cigars was grown on farms in the Stony Hill and Plumtrees Districts. Bethel has also been home to factories producing silk, slippers, corsets, and bicycle seats.

1855 – Bethel incorporated as a town independent of Danbury.

1860 – the Bethel Opera House on Greenwood Avenue built by Augustus A. Fisher. It once served as a silent movie theater, the Barnum Theatre. It was known as Fisher's Hall, then Nichols' Opera House.

1861 – the United Methodist Church structure (the oldest church building in Bethel) built.

1861-1865 – the Civil War.

1865 – the Second Meeting House building ceased being used as a house of worship. (It was moved and now is home to the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Bethel Historical Society.)

1867 – the third First Congregational Church of Bethel on Main Street built.

Circa 1867 – building of the Plumtrees School (which still exists at the corner of Plumtrees and Taylor Roads).

1879 – the town created its own water supply from the Eureka Reservoir.

Late 1880s – electricity became available.

1881 – P. T. Barnum donated a 18-foot high bronze Triton fountain to the town.

1883 – St. Mary Church on Greenwood Avenue built.

1891 – two years before his death, Barnum visited Bethel for the last time.

1892 – dedication of a memorial statue to the those Bethelites who died in the Civil War. The statue is at Center Cemetery on South Street.

1909 – Maria Parloa gave the town $2,000 dollars to start a library.

1909 – the St. Thomas Episcopal Church built.

1914 – the Seelye family donated the current library building.

1924 – the P.T. Barnum Triton fountain having froze and cracked, was disassembled and hauled away.

1928 – the old P.T. Barnum Triton fountain was replaced by the Doughboy statue, sculpted by E.M. Viquesney of Spencer, Ind.

1930s & 1940s – the Bethel Opera House was called Leeja Hall and was used for town meetings as well as a high school gym. It now houses a restaurant, shops and White Light Studio.

1932 – the first vodka distillery in the U.S. opened in Bethel. Rudolph Kunett produced the first bottle of Smirnoff vodka. He had purchased the Smirnoff family's secret vodka recipe.

1939 – Mr. Kunett sold his distillery to Heublein Inc.

1950 to1960 – the town's population was 8,200.

early 1960s – Interstate 84 constructed.

By 1968 – the last working hat factory had closed.

1970s & 1980s – two industrial parks, Berkshire Corporate Park and the Francis J. Clark Industrial Park, constructed.

1986 – the Bethel Historical Society and the Connecticut Historical Society made an historic survey of 85 sites in the downtown area.

1993 – Patrick Wild appointed the town's first historian.


The Bethel Answer Book http://www.munic.state.ct.us/BETHEL/histo.htm

Bethel Chamber of Commerce http://www.bethelchamber.com/townhistorygovernment.html


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