I recently took a stroll down the back roads of Stony Hill, taking in upper Old Hawleyville Road, Hawleyville Road, and Vail Road. It was a day that Mother Nature seldom grants this time of year. Even with September exited and October now upon the stage, it seemed as if summer was unwilling to take her final bow. The sun, lower on the horizon than at its late June zenith, still demonstrated the power to inspire a person to tilt back his head, close his eyes, smile, and soak in the warmth that will soon sadly depart until next spring. The lazuline sky was dotted by wispish clouds that made their way across the heavens without any particular hurry. All around, the green of summer was slowly being supplanted by the yellow, red, gold, orange, and auburn of autumn. As I tramped along, dust devils sometimes possessed fallen leaves to stage impromptu square dances in the road while their companions on the roadside crunched beneath my feet like oversized corn flakes.

Despite the underlying hum of the nearby interstate and the passing cars that occasionally caused me to sidestep from the roadway to the adjoining grass, my walk gave me a renewed appreciation for those parts of our town that retain their traditional New England charm. Some of the stone fences that stretched alongside the road confirmed Frost’s observation that, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” but most remained steadfast in carrying out the task they were long ago assigned. The weathered chains of rock conjured up visions of the farmers who initially cleared this land, first of trees and then of stones, arranging the ancient glacial deposits to mark the boundaries of their land. Today these partitions stand as enduring reminders of the backbreaking work carried out by our forebears in establishing a community.

The careful work of ancient hands far outlives the craftsman. This stone wall still runs along the north side of Hawleyville Road, just as it has for more than two centuries.

With Halloween only a short time away, there is a general interest in all things haunted. As I ambled the rolling terrain of Stony Hill and mused about its past, I had a sudden revelation that all hauntings need not be scary and that all ghosts might not necessarily be evil. I realized that, in a way, I had been haunted by the spirits of earlier Stony Hill residents for many years. In delving into our town’s history, I have come to know many of them, almost as if they were old friends. I have pored over the records of their births, baptisms, marriages, and deaths. I have searched land records to find where and when they bought and sold land and examined probate records to see what they left behind and to whom, and I have walked among the headstones marking their graves. Not surprisingly, it is there that their presence is the most palpable.

Visiting old burying places like the one on Walnut Hill Road in Stony Hill brings home the fact that our current generation is by no means the first to experience trouble and strife. So many headstones mark the graves of those who died before their lives had barely begun, calling to mind the Book of Job’s grim reminder: “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down.” Bearing biblical names such as Hezekiah, Zachariah, Rachel, Sarah, and Huldah, these early inhabitants of Bethel would have known this scripture well and understood its meaning from their own sorrowful experience. Children’s graves are all too numerous, and often, parents lost multiple children over time. Men literally worked themselves to death in an era when hard physical labor was a requisite regardless of occupation. In the burial grounds, these men are accompanied by wives, who, if they survived the perils of childbirth, lost their husbands long before their own deaths and were referred to as relicts rather than widows on their headstones. Many of these sandstone, granite, and marble headstones have been eroded by time, cracked, tumbled down, or covered by moss and lichen, making them nearly indecipherable.

The grueling struggles endured by early families who first settled in our area, such as the Benedicts, Dibbles, Weeds, Beebes, and Vails, to provide the basics of food, clothing, and shelter for their families would make many modern-day difficulties pale in comparison. Despite a natural human tendency to sometimes wish for a return to a simpler time, a thorough examination of earlier conditions would cause most to sensibly forgo such a move. Instead, it would seem a more sensible approach to call to mind the names of some of those that came before us in the hopes that their ghosts may haunt us pleasantly, knowing that we bear them no ill will.

“A tree that looks at God all day, And lifts her leafy arms to pray” -Joyce Kilmer A stately oak stands alone at the corner of a field on the north side of Hawleyville Road. Once farmland owned by the Benedict family, the property has recently been donated to the town of Bethel by the Rubino family.

Old Stony Hill

The earliest known recorded reference to “Stony Hill” has been found in a probate record from 1743. The name given to this early school district of Danbury reflects both its composition and its elevation. The heart of early Stony Hill was Hawleyville Road. Records suggest that the portion of today’s Route 6 (Stony Hill Road) that stretches from the north end of Benedict Road to that of Old Bethel Road in Newtown was not created until after 1800. Before that time, an individual traveling from Danbury to Newtown might head east up the steep incline or “stony hill” that today crests at a four-way traffic light alongside the Microtel Inn on Route 6. He would then take a slight jog to the left (northeast) along today’s Hawleyville Road. At the intersection of Hawleyville Road and Old Hawleyville Road, the traveler would first take a turn to the left (north) and then a quick turn to the right (east). From here, the path continued over the line into Newtown and connected with a route that today still bears the name Old Hawleyville Road and ends a short distance north of the Exit 9 entrance ramp to Interstate 84. The old course would next turn to the right (south) and connect with the road now known as Mount Pleasant Road or Route 6, following the same primary easterly path to Newtown’s Main Street that exists today but with many more twists and turns that have since been eliminated.

Before the twentieth century, most of the roads outside Bethel’s downtown area had no official names, and street signs were virtually non-existent. Today, Bethel has both a Hawleyville Road and an Old Hawleyville Road. The irony is that Hawleyville Road is probably older than Old Hawleyville Road. It is possible that at some point in the early twentieth century, a sign was placed on Dodgingtown Road (Route 302) that was marked “To the Old Hawleyville Road” to indicate a route that would take drivers north to Hawleyville Road. (Route 6 was probably viewed by long-time residents as the “New” Hawleyville Road.) After a while, the route marked “TO the Old Hawleyville Road” probably became accepted as “THE Old Hawleyville Road” by newer residents unfamiliar with the actual evolution, and the name stuck. The label “Hawleyville Road” made its first appearance in Danbury-Bethel Directories in 1926. “Old Hawleyville Road” did not appear until 1930. Our look at Stony Hill’s most historic houses will start near the intersection of these two well-traveled thoroughfares.

Stony Hill’s Historic Houses

  1. Comfort Starr Knapp House - 215 Old Hawleyville Road
The Comfort Starr Knapp House dates from 1856 and is built upon the foundation of a previous structure that predated the American Revolution.

The stately house located at 215 Old Hawleyville Road has a genesis that can be precisely determined with the help of two news articles from The Danbury Times. The first from Thursday, March 13, 1856, reads as follows:

Burning of A Dwelling House - The residence of Comfort S. Knapp, Bethel (Stony Hill district,) was entirely destroyed by fire on Saturday afternoon. The flames were first discovered, as we learn, about 3 o’clock, proceeding from the roof, between the main building and lean-to. A strong wind was blowing at the time, which rapidly fanned the flames until it shot fiercely over the main building, and soon placed it beyond the possibility of rescue, it being extremely difficult to obtain water. The neighbors of Mr. Knapp soon assembled, and by their united exertions most of his furniture was saved. A feather bed, some crockery, and provisions in the cellar, were, however, destroyed. As a singular case of preservation, it is said that Mr. K. wrenched a looking-glass - 3 foot long and 1 and 1/2 wide - from its stand in one of the chambers which the fire was approaching, and tossing it out of the window it struck on the snow crust, sliding about fifteen feet, and was afterwards picked up uninjured. The flames at first blew directly towards the barn, standing 20 feet from the house; but the wind suddenly changed, and by the most active exertions the former was saved.

The building was worth from $1,200 to $1,500, upon which, we regret to say, there was no insurance.”

This sad story could have ended here but the next week’s issue of The Danbury Times provided this follow-up article that says a great deal about the character of our predecessors.

“We learn that the residents of the Stony Hill district have generously clubbed in furnishing and drawing timber for the erection of a new building over the ruins of the late residence of Mr. Comfort Knapp, destroyed by fire. This literal fulfillment of the golden rule teaches that the district is not alone characterized for its ‘boulders.’”

Comfort Starr Knapp (1787-1865), whose new house was built on the old foundation “with a little help from his friends,” purchased the previous structure from Ira Benedict in 1842. The pre-revolutionary building was then a tavern and was very active, most notably after the Housatonic Railroad came to the Hawleyville district of Newtown in 1840 but before another line reached Danbury in 1852. During those dozen years, both passengers and freight would be conveyed from the Hawleyville depot to downtown Danbury via a route that passed directly by this tavern. Many passengers and wagon drivers would take a meal and spend the night at the popular tavern before making the next leg of their journey. After the initiation of the Danbury-Norwalk railroad line, business dropped off, and the tavern was converted to a private residence.

  1. John McLean House - 35 Hawleyville Road
This beautiful colonial home was greatly expanded in 1995 but still retains its distinctive saltbox profile which is most easily seen here on its western side.

This saltbox house has been labeled The Nathaniel Benedict House for more than a century. However, a new in-depth investigation of land deeds and probate records reveals that the home’s earliest owner was John McLean. (Nathaniel Benedict resided a considerable distance away, near the western end of Hawleyville Road.) The earlier attribution was based on research done by Henry B. Betts, who conducted his investigation in April of 1915. Records meticulously maintained at both the Bethel and Danbury Town Clerk’s Offices today provide the means of tracing ownership as far back as 1777, the year British troops burned the building housing records predating that event. Probate records that had been kept elsewhere sometimes allow the researcher to push beyond that barrier.

The History of Danbury, 1684-1896 states that immediately after the British attack on Danbury in April of 1777, John McLean escaped capture “joining his family in New Milford, whence they removed to a farm which he owned in Stony Hill, and remained until the close of the war. They then returned to Danbury and built the house now standing near the foot of Main Street.”

John McLean (1737-1805) was a Scottish immigrant who arrived in America in 1757 and quickly began buying up plots of land in and around Danbury. The History of Danbury relates a statement made by one of McLean’s contemporaries suggesting “John McLean could walk from Ridgefield to Newtown without stepping off his own land.”

After John McLean built his new house on Main Street, he may have allowed his son Alexander (1768-1844) to live at the family farm in Stony Hill as he approached adulthood. After John McLean died on April 7, 1805, Alexander received the property in the distribution of the estate. “We set off to Alexander McLean eldest son of said deceased the dwelling House in which he now lives at Stony Hill at - $400.00. Also The Barn on the Stony Hill farm Situated near said House at - 150.00.” When Alexander sold the property in 1817 the house came with seventy-five acres of land and an additional eighty acres situated to the south were sold separately.

  1. Zachariah Clark House - 30 Hawleyville Road
This house on the north side of Hawleyville Road was owned by Asahel Benedict (1749-1802), then George Clapp (1791-1862), and later Zachariah Clark (1808-1875).

Starting out as a modest-sized structure, this house has seen several additions. When Asahel Benedict died on September 13, 1802, his dwelling house and the land around it were distributed to his widow as “dower” (the part of a deceased husband’s real estate which the law traditionally gave for life to his widow). Asahel’s widow Lydia Dibble Taylor outlived her husband by over 43 years, dying at the age of 91 on March 20, 1846, apparently occupying a portion of the house most of that time.

Before her death, a portion of the property was sold to George Clapp, a comb maker by trade who probably used his part of the structure for both his lodging and for plying his trade. (Making ornamental hair combs from cow horns was an essential industry in Bethel between 1810 and 1850.) Clapp sold out to Zachariah Clark, a shoemaker and farmer who purchased the property in two stages, the first in 1835 and the second in 1836, and occupied the property until his death on February 27, 1875. Clark owned a total of sixty-one acres of land at the time of the 1870 U.S. Census. Next, the property was passed to his son Lemuel Beach Clark (1837-1914), who married Mary E. Osborn. His wife’s family also lived on Hawleyville Road, a short distance to the west. Mary E. Clark died on April 11, 1888, and Lemuel would continue to occupy the house until his death at age 76 on April 25, 1914. During the American Civil War, he had served as a sergeant in the 8th Regiment, Company A, of the Connecticut Volunteer Infantry. He was mustered out of service after being seriously wounded at the Battle of Antietam in 1862. In a sad twist of fate, Clark’s brother-in-law, Charles Vail Osborn, would die from wounds received in the very same battle, and Clark’s neighbor Charles S. Benedict, who lived immediately to the west, would also die as a result of war wounds several months later. In fighting America’s greatest conflict, three farmhouses situated in a row on an old road that traversed a remote part of a small Connecticut town were all beset by tragedy.

  1. Martin Kellogg Osborn House - 8 Hawleyville Road
This house most likely dates to 1842 and was built for Martin Kellog Osborn and his wife Polly Vail Osborn on land inherited upon the death of Polly’s father Oliver Vail in 1841.
The portion of the last will and testament of Oliver Vail that distributed property to his daughter Lois Vail Osborn on April 4, 1841. Lois and her husband Martin Osborn would later build their house on this same piece of land.

The house that stands at 8 Hawleyville Road was originally the home of Martin Kellogg Osborn (1818-1878) and his wife Lois Vail Osborn (1820-1902). (Osborn spelled his last name without an “e” at the end.) The couple inherited 10 acres of land from Lois’ father Oliver Vail in 1841 and later built a comfortable farmhouse that sits at the crown of what early land records called “old town hill”. The Fairfield County Commemorative Record, published in 1889, contains a profile of Martin K. Osborn that states: “He dealt largely in cattle, and was an active, energetic man of affairs; in his political views, he was Republican.”

Martin and Lois Osborn had two children, Mary and Charles. Mary would wed, “the boy down the road” and return to live with her parents for a time. Their son, Charles B. Osborn, was born in 1840 and is shown living in this house in the 1850 and 1860 U.S. Censuses. At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Charles enlisted in the 5th U.S. Light Artillery, Battery “I,” and achieved the rank of corporal. On April 17, 1862, his military unit took part in what is now remembered as the single bloodiest day in American military history, the Battle of Antietam, in Sharpsburg, Maryland. In the heat of the battle, Charles was badly wounded and died from his injuries two days later. Surviving military records describe him as being 5 feet 4½  inches tall, having dark eyes, light hair, and a fair complexion. He was just twenty-one years old.

The 1870 U.S. Census shows Martin K. Osborn living in the house at today’s 8 Hawleyville Road with his wife Lois, daughter Mary, son-in-law Lemuel B. Clark, and the couple’s two grandchildren Jeanie and Fred. The cash value of the farm at that time was $4,500. The value of farm implements and machinery was $300. The Osborn family is shown owning 70 acres of land, two horses, three milch cows (ones kept for milk), six working oxen, eleven other cattle, and three swine. The farm had produced 150 bushels each of corn and oats, 100 bushels of Irish potatoes, 400 pounds of butter, and 20 tons of hay during the course of the previous year. The value of animals slaughtered or sold for slaughter was estimated to be $1,500, and the estimated value of all farm production, including betterments and additions to the stock, was estimated to be $2,250. The majority of these totals were some of the highest recorded by farms in the surrounding area, suggesting that the Osborn family would have been viewed as quite prosperous.

Despite their prosperity, Martin K. Osborn may have never gotten over the death of his son, and he sadly took his own life on April 10, 1878, at the age of 59. His wife, Lois, would remain in the family home until her death on June 30, 1902.

  1. Aaron Lacy House - 2 Hawleyville Road
The main portion of the Aaron Lacey House, seen at the center, dates from 1812. The addition, seen on the right, was constructed in 1911. The centrally located front door and porch of the house were removed at some point in its history.

According to research conducted by Henry B. Betts in 1921, this house was built by Aaron Lacey in 1812. Lacey was born in 1769 and died on March 22, 1818. He married Huldah Dibble (1772-1859), daughter of John Dibble, whose house was located close to the present entrance of the Walnut Hill Community Church. Aaron’s widow, Huldah Lacey, is shown living in the house in the 1820 U.S. Census. On January 25, 1821, Huldah Dibble Lacey married Oliver Clark and may have then left the house to her son Russell Lacey (1796-1869). Russell married Sarah Dibble on May 17, 1821, less than five months later. Russell’s wife Sarah died on January 27, 1826, at the age of 24.

On August 10, 1826, Russell Lacey married Sophia Betts in Wilton, Connecticut. Lacey and his family are shown living in their Hawleyville Road home in both the 1830 and 1840 U.S. Census. The 1850 U.S. Census was the first to provide the names of all family members rather than just the heads of families. In this year, we find Russell Lacey, age 54, his wife Sophia, age 48, and his six children. His mother, Huldah Clark, age 78 and now a widow, is shown once again living in her old home. This census states that Russell Lacey’s occupation was that of a blacksmith. This work would have made him an essential figure in the Stony Hill district as there was always a great need for someone of his profession during the era when horses and wagons provided the primary means of transportation. By the 1860 Census, Lacey had only two children living at home and had taken in an Irish farmhand named Lackey Gilmartin. On November 2, 1869, Russell Lacey died of typhoid fever at the age of 73. His wife Sophia died six years later, on May 2, 1875, at the age of 73.

Irish immigrant Patrick “Paddy” Ratchford and his wife, Bridget, lived in the house at the time of the 1880 U.S. Census.

In 1909 the old Aaron Lacey house was purchased by Sarah Libby Carson, a social worker from New York City who used the farm as a place where inner-city children could escape their crowded surroundings and spend a summer in the country. The Newtown Bee announced the purchase on April 30, 1909:

Miss Sarah Libby Carson, who is a settlement worker in the East Side of New York City and is at the head of the Wesley House, has bought the place in Stony Hill owned by Miss Ida Hill.

Two years later, on May 24, 1911, the Danbury News carried this article.


“Miss Sara Libby Carson and her staff of assistants arrived at Friendship farm on Monday and opened the house. Improvements have been constantly under way here since the house was closed last September. The addition has been completed, the interior of the house adapted to the requirements of the house party it entertains, a water system installed and a barn built, which with fresh paint adds much to the appearance of the property.”

Two New York City Directories from the early 1900s provide insight into the purpose of Friendship Farm and the Wesley House Settlement House that sponsored it.

  1. Stony Hill Chapel - 5 Hawleyville Road
This home at 5 Hawleyville Road began life as a chapel and still retains much of its original appearance.

The origin of this building is best told in an article that appeared in the Danbury Evening Times, May 14, 1917.


Impressive Service as New Stony Hill House of Worship is Opened

“The recently built community chapel in Stony Hill district was dedicated yesterday afternoon at 3:30 o’clock with appropriate exercises. A large number of people from Danbury and Bethel together with the people living in Stony Hill district attended the exercises. The dedicatory prayer was given by Dr. Edwin P. Farnum, of Brooklyn, N.Y., who is filling the pulpit at the Danbury Baptist church until a pastor is secured.

The chapel is forty-five feet long and twenty-five feet wide. It was built by funds raised by popular subscription among the people of the district. Several friends from Danbury and Bethel have also donated to it. The chapel contains an auditorium, about twenty-five feet by thirty-five feet, a small room in the rear and a basement. The basement is not yet completed.

With the exception of three hundred dollars the chapel is clear of debt. The district has never had a church and until seven years ago never had a Sunday school class or any other religious classes.”

The news article tells how the effort to start a Sunday school eventually led to the idea of building a chapel. In 1917, Frederick D. Vail, who lived diagonally across the road at 2 Hawleyville Road, headed the Sunday School. The old Stony Hill one-room schoolhouse, which had traditionally been the neighborhood focal point, sat directly across the street.

Another item included in the same piece relates: “The windows in the church were formerly in St. Thomas’ Church and were donated to the Stony Hill people by members of St. Thomas parish.” Although most of the stained glass windows were removed when the chapel was converted into a private residence, a circular stained glass window remains in the front gable. The original St. Thomas’ Church that stood at 95 Greenwood Avenue was built in 1835 and replaced by the current church building in 1909. The donated windows came from the first church.

An earlier Danbury News article from May 24, 1911, indicates that initially, there had been hopes of obtaining land close to where the Days Inn Motel on Route 6 exists today. The article stated: “This site would make our little chapel a landmark for miles around, and a more beautiful and extended view it would be difficult to find.” The effort to acquire this land proved unsuccessful, and the property on Hawleyville Road was obtained instead. Although the chapel did not come with a view, its present location helped to preserve it from the development along Route 6 that has claimed so many other historic structures. According to Bethel directories, the Stony Hill Chapel last saw use as a place of worship in 1946.

This photograph is believed to date from about 1950 after the Stony Hill Chapel was no longer in use. It shows the pointed-arch stained glass windows that once existed on either side of the main entry.

  1. Moses Vail House - 2 Vail Road
The Moses Vail House at 2 Hawleyville Road is made up of several buildings that have been connected over the course of  time.        

This historic house, as seen today, is clearly composed of at least five different parts. Based on architectural details, the portion that today adjoins the barn is probably the oldest and may have been the home of Moses Vail (1748-1793). What is currently seen as the main house may have been built by Oliver Vail at about the time of his marriage in 1802 and probably was initially separate from the earlier building. The part of the structure immediately adjacent to the right side of the main house is clearly a later addition. The barn was most likely constructed at an even later point and then given a lean-to-style addition on its right side.

If the earliest portion of this complex was built for Moses Vail, it would date from before 1790, as he is found living in this location in the 1790 U.S. Census. He certainly was in the area prior to this time based on his military service records from the American Revolution. Vail was a sergeant in the Connecticut 16th Regiment serving under Colonel Nehemiah Beardsley and Captain Daniel Hickok, the latter of whom was also from Bethel. He was paid for horse travel on an expedition in a document dating from July 9, 1779. Vail was born in 1748 and died on December 31, 1793. His grave is the earliest one found in the Stony Hill Cemetery on Walnut Hill Road. He married Hannah Benedict (1750-1798), a daughter of Nathaniel Benedict, who lived just west of this house’s location. Vail’s eldest son, Oliver, was born July 29, 1777, in Danbury. The original house was thus probably built just prior to this time. Oliver’s marriage in 1802 to Polly Beebe would also correspond with the construction of the part of the house that is now furthest to the west, based on its architectural aspects, although it received updates and alterations in the years that followed.

Moses Vail’s widow married Benjamin Wood in 1798 but she joined Wood in his house and left the family home to her son, Oliver. He is seen living here in the 1800, 1810, 1820, 1830, and 1840 Censuses. Oliver Vail died October 15, 1841, at the age of 64. His widow, Polly is shown living in the house in the 1850 Census along with her twin daughters, Henrietta, Harriet, and son, John. The same census indicates that Polly Vail’s farm contained a total of 87 acres at that time. In the 1860 Census Polly, now age 76, still resided in the home with her two daughters. She died on October 15, 1866, at the age of 83, and was buried in the Stony Hill Cemetery, close to where her husband had been interred twenty-five years earlier.

Following Polly Vail’s death, the house was inherited by her son, John D. Vail (1828-1918). His sisters Henrietta and Harriet also are shown living with their brother in the 1870 Census. John had married Harriet Maria Warner (1833-1916) in 1853. By 1900, John D. Vail was living in the home with his wife, son, daughter-in-law, sister Harriet, and two grandchildren. A farmhand identified only as “John,” who had immigrated from Russia a year before, was also boarding with the family. The 1910 Census still shows a full house at the Vail Home. John, now 83, and his wife Harriet, now 76, were joined by four other family members, two boarders, and a ward. (One boarder was Miss Helen Judd, age 24, whose occupation was listed as that of a school teacher. In all likelihood, Judd taught at the Stony Hill School that was located across the road from the Vail farm.)

Harriet Maria Warner Vail died on June 2, 1916, and John D. Vail followed her in death on October 29, 1918. They, like the two previous generations of Vails, were buried in the Stony Hill Cemetery.

John and Harriet’s son Frederick B. Vail (1861-1935) would be the last member of the Vail family to inhabit the home. Frederick Vail married Mary Roe in 1888. They continued to live on the Vail farm after the death of John’s parents and are shown in the 1920 Census with their son, Irving, daughter-in-law, granddaughter, and two boarders. By 1930 Frederick, now 68, and Mary, now 66 were living by themselves in the rambling old house. Two years later in 1932, they would decide to sell the old farm that had been in the family since before the American Revolution. Frederick B. Vail, who had been employed as a foreman with the Connecticut State Highway Department, died three years later on February 7, 1935, while in Tampa, Florida. Mary Roe Vail died on February 11, 1943. Unlike their predecessors, the couple was buried in the Wooster Cemetery in Danbury, Ct. The tenure of the Vail family had lasted for over 155 years. Today, the road that passes before their old home and stretches across the town line into Brookfield bears the family’s name.

     8.   Joseph Beebe House - 27 Vail Road

This simple farmhouse may possibly hold the title of Stony Hill’s oldest house.

A 1784 edition of the Bible kept by members of the Beebe family for generations is now preserved at the Danbury Museum and Historical Society. It has several pages that record birth, marriages, and deaths as was the practice during the 18th century. One page contains an entry written by the Bible’s original owner Deacon Joseph Beebe that reads: “Myself being born January 10th, 1725.” The Annals of Broookfield published in 1929 quotes a source that stated Beebe “lived at Pocono in Stony Hill.” Pocono was the name given to the area that today straddles the northern Bethel and southern Brookfield border and a small area further north. The house that is today designated as 27 Vail Road was owned by the Beebe family for well over one hundred years and is located in that same area that was labeled Pocono in old land deeds. This is significant in that Deacon Beebe’s son, Joseph Jr. is said to have been born in, “Pocono at Stony Hill” and the family Bible provides his birthdate as being July 9, 1753. If this was the Beebe home at that time then the birth record would indicate that this house was built prior to 1753 and therefore, may possibly be the oldest surviving house in the Stony Hill district.

Stony Hill historian Henry B. Betts believed the house had been originally built in the saltbox style and that much later its back portion was raised to a full two stories, dramatically altering its appearance. An examination of the house’s exterior does indicate that this is certainly probable.

Both Joseph Beebe Sr. and Joseph Beebe Jr. are shown living in this part of Bethel in the 1790 and 1800 Censuses. By 1810, Joseph Beebe Sr. had passed away, and only Joseph Jr. is shown. In 1820 Joseph Beebe Jr. was once again found here along with Olive Beebe, presumably his daughter born in 1788. He is shown in the home in the 1830 and 1840 Censuses as well. Following Joseph Beebe Jr.’s death in 1844, the 1850 Census shows his daughter Sarah, also known as “Sally” Beebe, age 62, living alone in the house. When the 1860 Census was taken, the house may have been vacant. Sally Beebe can be found living with her sister Rebecca Benedict in Danbury in both 1860 and 1870. She died on June 24, 1871, at the age of 81, and was given a final resting place in the Stony Hill Cemetery. (Many written accounts of Bethel’s earliest houses make reference to “the Aunt Sally Beebe place.”)

When researching the ownership of the house in 1914, Henry B. Betts created the following chronology:

Owner                       Date of Acquisition

Lackey Gilmartin              About 1860

Patrick Durkin                  About 1875

William Terbush               About 1895

Samuel Clark                             1900

Clark died on June 16, 1910, and his estate was inherited by his grandsons, Harold and Rudolph Carlson, who were then minors.

In 1915 the property was purchased by John (Giovanni) Capellaro, who had immigrated to America in 1882. He also bought property across the street and began a highly successful restaurant and picnic facility known as Capellaro’s Grove. The Capellaro family still maintains ownership of the old Beebe house today.


The poet Edgar A. Guest wrote, “It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home.” That being the case, then the eight houses profiled here certainly qualify. These homes have all seen their “heap o’ livin” and will hopefully see a good deal more. In recalling the names of their past owners, we keep their memory alive and pay a grateful tribute to the work they did to establish the community we inhabit today. Let us hope that we prove worthy of our inheritance.


This article is dedicated to my friend Kevin Tallent, a life-long resident of Stony Hill who has always shown an avid interest in both its well-being and its history.


All photos were taken by the author with the following exceptions:

Images 8, 10, 11 - Ancestry.com

Image 13 - Courtesy of Mary Franc and Kevin Tallent

Image 14 - Google Maps


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