Catherine Hyder Ogden - Gentle Leader

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One of the kindest, gentlest and smartest people I have ever met passed away on January 23. Cathy Ogden, Chairman of the Oral History Project for 19 years, succumbed to ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease).

Cathy was born in Lawrence, Kansas, to Clyde and Allena Hyder.  Her father was a distinguished professor of English Literature at the University of Kansas.  She graduated from Lawrence High School in 1963 and Swarthmore College in 1967.  Cathy and her husband, Ross, moved to Greenwich in 1969. 

Picture


CATHY  OGDEN

Photo Courtesy of The Oral History Project


Always civic-minded, Cathy volunteered with the League of Women Voters, the Brunswick School Parents Association, the American Red Cross and the First Presbyterian Church, where she served as a Deacon.  But her greatest legacy will be her leadership of the Oral History Project at Greenwich Library.

The Oral History project was organized by the Greenwich Library and Greenwich Historical Society in 1973 as part of the upcoming Bicentennial Celebration in 1976. In 1977, it became a permanent committee of the Friends of Greenwich Library.  It's staffed by volunteers, and it's a member of the Oral History Association, and the New England Association of Oral History.

Cathy joined the Project as an editor in 1981. In 1993, she took over the Chairmanship from MaryEllen LeBien and led the Project for 19 years. During this time, Cathy was the guiding force who raised the Project to visible prominence, and garnered for it several awards:

  • The 1991 Harvey A. Kantor Award by the New England Association of Oral History.
  • The 1995 CT Life Award, New Haven, Connecticut, for the preservation of personal histories which have created a priceless resource for Greenwich, and an inspiring model for other communities to follow.
  • The 1996 Publication Award from the Connecticut Library Association Public Relations Section, for an outstanding library publication.
  • The Town of Greenwich proclamation designating July 15, 2003, as Oral History Day in Greenwich.

During Cathy's tenure, she led the OHP through many changes in technology. A website and blog was developed. She served as moderator for a discussion relating to the publication of the Project's book  on Bruce Museum, and developed Oral History Days - an opportunity for residents to give half-hour interviews on local history. Cathy helped create and maintain a Subject Guide of interviews.

Perhaps the most fitting tribute was the fact that other similar groups across the nation use the OHP as the benchmark for a professional and quality organization.

Cathy was truly a champion of the Oral History Project.


SOURCES:

THE ORAL HISTORY PROJECT, FRIENDS OF THE GREENWICH LIBRARY

SEMMES, A.; GREENWICH TIME; Hearst Newspapers


Blythewood Sanitarium

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If you've ever looked at some early maps of Greenwich, you may have been surprised to see a caption for a Blythewood Sanitarium on Indian Rock Road off Orchard Street in Cos Cob.  This is where the Greenwich Baptist Church is now located across the street from Central Middle School.  The medical center was established by Mrs. Anna C. Wiley and her husband, Dr. William H. Wiley, in 1905.  It operated until 1965, when the Baptist Church bought the property. 

Mrs. Wiley was a nurse, who worked in mental hospitals in Canada and the United States.  She met her husband in a hospital while working as a nurse. Dr. William Wiley had been born in Chester PA,  and was educated at The Friends School of Pennsylvania and the University of Pennsylvania.   Mrs. Wiley had a reputation for being kind and philanthropic, and gave her patients  exceptional treatment. She believed patients should not be confined to buildings with a cold atmosphere.  They should be given freedom to move around.  Part of the rehabilitation should include creative outlets such as arts and crafts.  Mrs. Wiley was definitely progressive in her approach to mental health treatment.

The Sanitarium complex at one time featured 8 main buildings, 8 cottages, a chapel, an occupational therapy building and a small golf course on 50-acres of land.  Only the chapel remains today.  A small stream bisects the property.  It was known to be a rehabilitation center for the wealthy, although "charity" patients were included in the program but not identified.

A big iron gate marked the entrance to Blythewood.  Next to the gate was the main house with white columns.  This was the original main house of the estate, and served as the Blythewood Administrative building.  It conatined the doctor's offices and also served as a "Graduate House" for patients about to be released. 

When patients first arrived, they were held in a "Lockup House" for observation.  This could take anywhere from a few hours to a few days.  Depending on the diagnosis, patients would be assigned to the Violent House or Middle House. 

The Violent House was the farthest from the road.  Patients were usually strapped down to guernies when arriving, then delivered to padded cells for safety.  Sometimes their hands were restrained.  Occassional screams could be heard from the building.  Pottery classes were held to help with rehabilitation.

People who improved would move to the Middle House.  This was a 2-story building with a finished attic, common rooms, and central dining room.  Patients continued their rehabilitation here until they were ready to move to the Graduate House.

Patients saw their psychiatrist for an hour each day five days a week.  In general, improving patients were allowed maximum freedom of movement.  Activities were geared to give patients intellectual and creative expression.  Clubs were formed, a library was accessible, concerts and musicals were performed - some by famous artists.

One of the attending physicians, Dr. Tiebout, was a pioneer in treating alcoholism.  On July 30, 1979, the Greenwich Time ran an article that Greenwich was second only to the San Fernando Valley as the Alcoholic Capital of America!  Dr. Tiebout believed the only way to treat the disease was to have the patient give up alcohol all together.  He was one of the early doctors to help formulate the AA program.  Blythewood began to get more and more people admitted for alcohol treatment.

Blythewood had its share of problems over time.  There were rumors of experimentation gone bad, and several people committed suicide on the premises. A fire destroyed part of the sanitarium in December of 1939. Several patients were found drowned in a pond on the property.

When Dr. Wiley died on November 8, 1936, Mrs. Wiley took over as head and continued to run the hospital until she died on July 2, 1951.  The Putnam Operating Company took over in July 1951, and the company continued to operate using the same philosophy and ideals established by the Wileys.  Managers also focused on personnel and employees, making sure they were trained to provide top notch service to patients. 

The sanitarium continued to operate until 1965, when the Greenwich Baptist Church bought the property for its home.  The current patients were transferred to other facilities throughout Fairfield County.

SOURCES:

Brown, S. : A Biography of Mrs. Marty Mann: First Lady of Alcoholics Anonymous; Hazelden Information & Education Services, 2001.

Greenwich Time: Time-Warner Corporation.

Historical Happenings

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Using Newspapers For Family Research
Saturday - February 14, 2015 - 2 PM
Greenwich Library Meeting Room

Janeen Bjork will talk about using newspaper resources to
help you research your family tree.  Free and open to all.


Greenwich Historical Society Website
www.hstg.org

Make a point to look at the Greenwich Historical Society
website on a regular basis.  There's a lot of useful information
on upcoming events, exhibits and history.

Dingletown Church

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If you've ever driven on Stanwich Road, you've probably noticed a quaint little church on the corner of Barnstable Road. This is now known as the Dingletown Community Church.  It's non-denominational, but at one time it was a Methodist Protestant Church in north Cos Cob.  What you might not know is that this church was moved from its former location.

new church006.jpg

CHURCH IN CURRENT LOCATION

COURTESY OF DINGLETOWN COMMUNITY CHURCH

Dingletown was one of the many villages or communities of Greenwich.  Some people claim it got its name from the constant jingling of cow bells as cattle crossed the farmlands.  Someone else suggested it might have been named after a "dingle", which is defined as a deep, narrow cleft between hills or a shady dell.  I believe Dingletown Road drops from a hill down to a bridge which crosses a stream between some hills.  This seems like the more logical explanation.

Although Dingletown was not as prominent a community as Stanwich or Round Hill, it still had an informal "church".  People would meet in a neighbor's house to worship.  It was probably time-consuming to travel to central Greenwich to attend church.  It became part of the Bedford circuit, and they shared a travelling minister for 15 years before they got a permanent preacher.  A small white church was built in 1845 about a mile south of its present location off Dingletown Road. It officially opened on November 26, 1845 as the Horseneck Society of the Methodist Protestant Church.

Orig Dingle004.jpgORIGINAL CHURCH ON DINGLETOWN ROAD.  CHURCH CAN BE SEEN IN UPPER RIGHT.

COURTESY OF THE DINGLETOWN COMMUNITY CHURCH

Some residents believe it is the oldest frame church in Greenwich.  It was constructed from unpeeled (roughhewn) logs.  The main floor was supported by beams.  Bent saplings were used for curved ceiling supports. A pot bellied stove was used to heat the interior.  Light was provided by oil lamps and pewter candle sconces. There was a pulpit and pews for the choir.  Music was provided by an old pump organ. A cupola was installed on the roof.  Attendance by church members was compulsory, and a fine was levied if they missed a service.

The church was finally able to hire a permanent preacher, and a parade of ministers passed through the church until 1921 when Dr. Albert Lunning took over the helm.  He ran the church until until October 1935, when he passed away.  The church suddenly closed on November 21, 1935, and Dr. William Darrach bought the property to preserve the New England landmark.

When World War II broke out and gas rationing was implemented, local residents in Dingletown curtailed their trips to Cos Cob and central Greenwich.  Dr. Darrach reopened the church for worship in 1942.  At this time it was called Dingletown Church.  At first, lay members led the services, until a permanent minister was appointed around 1950. He had attended the Yale Divinty School and was ordained at the church.

Dingle003.jpg

DINGLETOWN CHURCH BEING MOVED

COURTESY OF DINGLETOWN COMMUNITY CHURCH

The church experienced a growth spurt in the fifties.  Since the church was built on a small plot of land, the building could not be expanded.  The Elders authorized the purchase of a larger lot on the corner of Barnstable Lane and Stanwich Road.  The building was purchased from the Darrach family, and plans were made to relocate the church.  Workers jacked up the building and rollers were placed underneath.  The cupola was removed, and trees along the route were cut.  On August 13, 1959, the church was moved to its present location.  One member of the church donated a steeple, while someone else provided a bell obtained from a locomotive once used by a Maine railroad.  A stonewall was added, as well as several large maple trees.

Moving005.jpg

CHURCH BEING RELOCATED

COURTESY OF THE DINGLETOWN COMMUNITY CHURCH

Today, the church is still a non-denominational congregation at 376 Stanwich Road.  It's open to people from all walks of life, as well as every religious persuasion.  I know many people who have chosen this church for weddings, baptisms and funerals. There's also a Memorial Garden - which has a "cosmic design" - on the property.   It's a very quaint and typical New England church. 


Historical Happenings

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Bates-Scofield House Museum
Tue-Thu: 12 to 5 PM - Sun: 12 to3
45 Old Kings Highway North - Darien

The Bates-Scofield House is home to the Darien Historical Society,
and houses valuable local history resources.  Also includes an exhibit
of 18th century clothing.  Donations requested. Call 203-655-9233


Holiday Train Express Show
Weekdays: 10 am to 4 PM   Weekends: 11 AM to 1 PM
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road - Fairfield CT 06824

"The entire family will enjoy this exhibit of model trains winding
around a winter wonderland of spectacular trees and beautiful
holiday scenery."  Fee required.  Call 203-259-1598.


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