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Town Historian's Annual Lecture To Explore 'The American Revolution In Newtown'



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Town Historian’s Annual Lecture To Explore ‘The American Revolution In Newtown’

Newtown was a town torn apart by the Revolutionary War. Due in part to the popularity and commanding presence of the Reverend John Beach, minister of the Anglican Church, many townspeople sided with the British. In fact, the state in 1780 authorized the arrest of “all Persons in said Town against whom there are reasonable Grounds of Suspicion that they are inimical to the United States,” and earlier in the year authorized force to collect taxes that customary procedures had failed to obtain from Newtown’s recalcitrant citizens. George Washington warned French General Rochambeau to be on guard while marching through Newtown due to our reputation.

On the other hand, many townspeople fully supported the war, spiritually, financially, and by serving in some level of the military.

Town Historian Dan Cruson will offer his annual lecture, this time to focus on “The American Revolution in Newtown,” on Monday, January 9. Newtown Historical Society will sponsor the lecture, to take place in the community room of C.H. Booth Library. The free event will begin at 7:30 pm.

Mr Cruson will examine local facets of the Revolution, including many overlooked details of the well-known Rochambeau march through, and encampment in, Newtown on his way to the decisive Battle of Yorktown.

There will also be new details concerning the hanging of the notorious spy Robert Thompson, and a long forgotten account of Sheldon’s Dragoons presence in Newtown in 1782. Much of the discussion will concern the effects that “Connecticut’s Valley Forge,” the Putnam encampment in Redding and Bethel, caused in Newtown, including the sad case of the war bride Betsey Foot.

Mr Cruson has just published a book detailing the history of Putnam Park, and he will share many stories developed in researching the book. He will also be showing slides of the archeological investigations he conducted in the park, and discuss why conditions at the Putnam encampment perhaps may not have warranted a comparison to Valley Forge.

By the end of the talk, those attending will have a better understanding of the Revolution in this area of Connecticut, and of its impact on Newtown in particular.

Copies of Mr Cruson’s new book, Putnam’s Revolutionary War Winter Encampment: The History and Archaeology of Putnam Memorial State Park, will be available for purchase and signing at the presentation.

Daniel Cruson is a former teacher of anthropology and local history at Joel Barlow High School. He is president of the Connecticut Archeological Society, and has collaborated with the archeology program at Western Connecticut State University on several occasions.

As town historian, he has also researched and written extensively about Newtown and Fairfield County. He is a past president of Newtown Historical Society, and currently serves as a trustee.

All Newtown Historical Society programs are free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served following the presentation.

For further information, call 203-426-5937.

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