Monday, December 12, 2016


How can we improve our services?

We are looking for suggestions about how we can make the Genealogy and Local History Unit here at the Silas Bronson Library more responsive to your needs.  Please take a few minutes to do the online survey, or stop by either the downtown or Bunker Hill Library branches to pick up a paper survey.  Thank you for your assistance.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Waterbury's Christmas Tree

Remembering Christmas Trees of Years Past

A patron stopped by yesterday with an interesting question: when did Waterbury first have a community Christmas tree on The Green or elsewhere?  Searching the newspaper archive on microfilm, I found an article that explained how the spruce tree planted on The Green in 1983 died and was removed about a year later.  Yaffe, D. (1985, August 14). City's Christmas tree gone from The Green. Waterbury Republican, p. 1.  This year, the Christmas tree display is much different from past years.  Because of the ongoing renovation of The Green, the Parks Department set up several trees for a holiday light display in Library Park.  What do you think of this year's Tree, or should I say trees?  Can anyone help me out with the patron's question about the first time Waterbury had a Christmas Tree display?  Photographs of this year's holiday display would be very welcome.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Looking for historical photographs?

Check out the New York Public Library's digital collection of historical documents and photographs from all over the world.  You never know what you might find on this easily searchable site, which is updated daily as they add more items.  As of today, there are dozens of images from the Greater Waterbury area, including a photograph of Ansonia, taken in 1865.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Hidden from view . . .
Do you know where Waterbury's potter's field is?  

The phrase "potter's field" comes from the Passion story in the New Testament.  Remember, they didn't know what to do with the money Judas flung back at them?  Every town has a potter's field.  It's where they bury people too poor to own their own cemetery plot.  Did you know that there is a potter's field here in Waterbury?  An inquiry from a patron led me to seek information about what is called "Town Cemetery."  According to, Town Cemetery, which is located at the intersection of Sunnyside Avenue and Draher Street, was where they buried the poor starting in the 1850's.  Only a few gravesites have headstones.  The cemetery has long been inactive.  It was closed in 1911.

You can find lots of interesting information as well as photographs about Waterbury cemeteries on  Many people use this site to post requests for photographs of the gravesite of an ancestor.  In fact, I was recently contacted by a woman in Texas who would like to have a photograph of a particular gravesite in Calvary Cemetery, and I encouraged her to post her request on  If you are interested in volunteering to go to Calvary to take the photograph, please let me know so that I can forward your contact information to this patron, who is unable to travel to Connecticut.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Genealogy Links to Explore

What are your plans for Labor Day?  If you put your genealogy file (whether paper or electronic) away for the summer, maybe you are ready to get back on track researching that long-lost ancestor.  Great, make a list of your questions.  Whether you are an experienced family history detective or just getting into this fascinating hobby, you will find a list of very rich links in this article by Andrea Davis, "History at Home: a guide to genealogy."  A big thank-you to Courtney Phillips and her students for bringing this helpful resource to my attention.  Have a great holiday weekend, everyone!

What can you tell me about this building?

Elizabeth Krodel contacted me recently to find out if we had any information about a building which is now the Enlightenment School, at 30 Church Street, Waterbury, Connecticut, a few steps away from St. John's Episcopal Church.  Researching historic buildings takes a lot of sleuthing because there is no central index to turn to that would allow you to plug in a particular address.  It helps if you know who owned the building.  To find that information, you can search the land records at the Town Clerk's office.  It also helps if you know what the building was used for because you might find articles in our newspaper archive about whatever school, business or organization was located there, along with background information about who was there prior to that.  In this particular case, Elizabeth thought the property was once a convent.  This led me to think the building was somehow part of the larger complex of buildings owned by St. John's.  It turns out that the building was originally built in 1916 as a private residence.  According to a free website called Historic Buildings of Connecticut, this building is known as the John Booth Burrall House.  Thank you, Elizabeth, for bringing this very helpful online resource to my attention.  I would encourage anyone interested in learning more about interesting buildings around the city to spend time browsing this website.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Researching Your Native American Ancestors

The National Archives in Washington, D.C. is probably your ultimate destination if you are trying to locate records about a Native American ancestor who belonged to one of the Southeastern tribes during the early 1800's.  However, before you travel to D.C., you might want to check out a book by Rachal Mills Lennon called "Tracing Ancestors Among the Five Civilized Tribes" (GE 929.1 Len). The book is a helpful supplement to the background information provided by the National Archives about their holdings.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Naugatuck History

Naugatuck, incorporated in 1844, is one of five towns that were once part of Waterbury.  For more information about the town's history, check out the Naugatuck Historical Society's blog.  Among the many books we have in our collection about Naugatuck is a recent publication by Arcadia Press about the local textile industry.

(published 2011)


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Time to donate a yearbook!


We're very lucky to have many yearbooks from Waterbury schools, but there are lots of missing years.  Due to our limited book budget, we rely on the generosity of members of the public to help us grow this collection.  If you are graduating this year, check to see if your class wishes to donate a yearbook to the Bronson Library's Genealogy collection.  We get many inquiries from people looking for information about a relative or a former classmate.  I remember the time I had an inquiry from a gentleman regarding his deceased wife, who had gone to high school here in the 1930s.  As I was browsing through the yearbook for her class, I happened to see a group portrait of a club--which one I can't remember.  Anyway, he was tickled to learn that his spouse of many years had been active with this club and never told him about it.  It was a tiny facet of her life that would have remained forever hidden had it not been for that yearbook.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Author of "Carrie Welton" to visit the Bronson Library

You've heard of the Carrie Welton Fountain, but who was Carrie?  There's a new book out about her by Charles Monagan.  Mr. Monagan will be at the Library on Thursday, May 12, 2016 for a book talk and signing.  The event will be held in the auditorium at 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Train and Trolley Tour

Mark your calendars for Sunday, May 15, 2016 - event posted as a courtesy to the Cheshire, Connecticut Historical Society

The Cheshire Historical Society is very pleased to announce that we will
host the MW-CR Train and Trolley Tour on Sunday, May 15th, departing
from the Society (43 Church Drive, Cheshire) at 9 AM promptly and
returning at 3 PM. Narrator:  Bob Belletzkie, Librarian, Historian,
Ferroequinologist, WebStationmaster

ALL ABOARD … 9:00 a.m. Prompt Departure!

Ride in style in a DATTCO Coach with air conditioning and comfortable
seating, as you take a bus trip “back in time” through Cheshire,
Prospect, and Waterbury’s past to the sites of stations and railroad
tracks for the Meriden Waterbury & Connecticut River Railroad as well as
Cheshire Street Railway:
  · Cheshire Street station
· Southington Road station
· Cheshire Junction
· West Cheshire station
· Prospect station
· East Summit station
· East Farms station
· Dublin Street station
· Waterbury station

  Arrive to the Society (rain or shine):  8:45 a.m.        Tour should
return to the Society at approx. 3 p.m.

Cost:  $40 for tour that includes lunch, $30 if you care to bring your
own lunch

These can be mailed to P.O. Box 281, Cheshire CT 06410

Lunch is planned at Blackie’s Hot Dog Restaurant where unlimited hot
dogs, soda, and potato chips are included.

Tour will make several stops including a stop at the newly paved linear
park off Jarvis Street.  Wear walking shoes. Bring umbrella, if needed.
The Jarvis Street stop involves a five minute walk on paved surface.

Phone DIANE CALABRO at (203) 250-9350 -or- email to to reserve your spot.  This tour is
filling up quickly so please respond as soon as you can.  We expect to
be fully booked on or before May 1st.

For the attached map:  Our tour will follow the Meriden, Waterbury and
Connecticut River RR [red line on map] from Cheshire Street station west
to Union Station, Waterbury. Returning, we will trace the route of the
Cheshire Street Rwy trolley [orange line] back to Cheshire.

I hope you will consider participating in this tour!

Thank you,
Diane Calabro, President

The Cheshire Historical Society
43 Church Drive - P.O. Box 281
Cheshire, CT 06410
"We Keep Cheshire's History Alive!"
Tel:  (203) 272-2574