History of Watertown

More than 210 years ago the area that is now Watertown belonged to the local Paugasuck Indians. But in 1684, Thomas Judd and 35 other proprietors bought the land from the Indians and Town history began.

Around 1700, Obadiah Richards settled in the area of Upper Middlebury Road, and John Scott on Nova Scotia Hill Road.By 1710 they both had left for safer places. In 1729 a family named Garnsey settled in the section now called Guernseytown. Built in 1735, the Belden saltbox house on lower Main Street is the oldest house in Watertown.

With 338 inhabitants, the First Ecclesiastical Society of Westbury was formed in 1738, and 42 years later, in 1780, Westbury separated from Waterbury and was named officially Watertown. For 15 years, however, it also included its territory Plymouth and Thomaston. The eastern area was incorporated as Plymouth in 1795. It soon became the crossroads for a number of early highways, and 12 scheduled train trips between Watertown and Waterbury. John Trumbull, poet of the Revolutionary War, who was also a lawyer and judge, was born here in 1750.

Products that were first manufactured here include Merritt Heminways spooled silk thread (1847), the Watertown Manufacturing’s Company’s plastic shatterproof dinnerware (1940)’s the first high-nap fabric used as imitation fur (Princeton Knitting Mills), and the Oakville Pin Shop.

One of the oldest firms in Connecticut at its time before shutting down a few years ago, Seymour Smith & Sons manufactured cutting tools, such as garden shears and pruning equipment.

A council-manager form of government in 1961 replaced more than 180 years of a town meeting-selectman form of government.Watertown has been the home of the Taft School, a college preparatory institution, since 1893. An estimated 21,000 inhabitants now occupy the 29.8 square miles which is now Watertown.