The Pequot War and the Founding of Fairfield

The Fairfield Museum and History Center presents a new exhibition, The Pequot War and the Founding of Fairfield, 1637-1639, on view through January 18, 2015, concluding a full year of exhibits, programs and events that celebrated Fairfield’s 375th anniversary.

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A collaboration with the Mashantucket Pequot Museum, this exhibit presents the story of the Pequot War in 1637, which led to Fairfield becoming established as an English settlement 375 years ago. Roger Ludlow, then a member of the Windsor Settlement, came south to join the fight. He was so taken with the area and its beauty, he returned in 1639 and founded the town of Fairfield.

An Algonquian-speaking people, the Pequot had been living in southeastern Connecticut for thousands of years prior to European contact. Before the arrival of the Europeans, roughly 13,000 Pequot lived in villages along Long Island Sound and the estuaries of the Thames, Mystic, and Pawcatuck Rivers, raising food through farming, hunting, and gathering

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The Pequot War (1637-38) was the first serious conflict in New England between European colonizers and the indigenous population. Historians have referred to the war as a seminal event in early American history, as it paved the way for English control of southern New England and the subjugation of the region’s Native people.
Among the many objects displayed in the exhibit is the sword of Captain John Mason, on loan from the Stonington Historical Society. Mason was the leader of the Connecticut troops during the Pequot War, and he most probably used this sword to fight the Pequot.

The exhibit also includes an original copy of John Underhill’s Newes from America (1638), on loan from the Connecticut Historical Society, rarely on public display. Captain John Underhill led the Mass Bay troops during the war and later published this account of the events. It is not only one of the most important primary sources of the war, but the publication also includes a remarkable woodcut of the attack on Mistick Fort that has become an iconic image. Also on view are other early 17th century examples of English arms and armor, including a helmet and matchlock gun, as well as a period bale seal and religious book, all on loan from the Plimoth Plantation.

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Also featured is a photograph of George Avison’s artwork, commissioned during the Great Depression by the Works Progress Administration to paint a series of five murals depicting Fairfield’s history, including one of the Swamp Fight. When he completed them in 1937, they were hung in the Roger Ludlowe High School building, now known as Tomlinson Middle School, where they remain today.

About the Fairfield Museum and History Center
The Fairfield Museum and History Center is a nonprofit, community cultural arts and education center established in 2007 by the 103-year old Fairfield Historical Society. The 13,000 square-foot museum includes modern galleries, a research library, a museum shop and community spaces overlooking Fairfield’s historic Town Green. The Fairfield Museum and History Center believes in the power of history to inspire the imagination, stimulate thought and transform society. Located at 370 Beach Road in Fairfield, CT, the Museum is open seven days a week, 10 am – 4 pm. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for students and seniors. Members of the Museum and children are free. For more information www.fairfieldhistory.org.

For area information www.visitfairfieldcountyct.com

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