Historical Happenings

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Art in Connecticut and the Connecticut Art Trail
Thursday - September 4 - 7 PM
Greenwich Library

Danielle Ogden and Pam Ruggio from the Aldrich Museum in Ridgefield will
speak on the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum and on how to obtain passes
to visit museums on the Connecticut Art Trail.

Free and open to patrons of all ages!

Greenwich's Civil Rights March

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The 1960s decade was probably the most dynamic period in terms of Civil Rights.  States such as Alabama and Mississippi refused to enforce Federal laws preventing segregation.  Freedom riders from the north began riding buses down south to protest.  Sometime between June 21 and 22, 1964, three such riders - James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael "Mickey" Schwerner - were shot to death at close range.  A subsequent trial found members of the Mississippi White Knights of the KKK, the County Sherriff and local police force guilty of the crime.  They received a slap on the wrist, and most escaped prison time.  This tragedy helped to garner support for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Acts of 1965.

A lesser-known  incident was the murder of Reverend James J. Reeb of Boston on March 9, 1965. Reeb was an American Unitarian Universalist minister and a Civil Rights activist in Washington DC. He and his family lived in poor Black communities where he felt he could do the most good.  Reeb travelled to Selma, Alabama, to help with the Civil Rights movement.  After leaving a "Negro" diner that he was helping to integrate, he was beaten to death by four white men. Reeb was not immediately admitted to a hospital, and two days later he died.  Martin Luther King Jr. condemned the murder as a cowardly act.  Several days earlier, African-American Jimmie Lee Jackson was shot to death by Selma police during a racial disturbance. Although marchers attempted to go to the County Courthouse for a memorial service, they were stopped by local authorities. 

In response to the violence in Selma, the Fellowship of Greenwich Clergy organized a march from the Second Congregational Church on East Putnam Avenue to the Lutheran Church on Field Point Road on March 13, 1965.  Seven hundred residents joined Reverend Ralph G. Morris of Diamond Hill Church, Reverend John J. Hawkins of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, and Reverend C. Gordon Beale of the Second Congregational Church in a peaceful and orderly march.  Demonstrators included blacks and white alike. 

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SECOND CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH  circa 1879

COURTESY OF MS. ADALINE RUNDLE

At the end of the march, a memorial service was held at the Lutheran Church on Field Point Road for Reverend Reeb.  Attendees were urged to support civil rights legislation and work to eliminate inequality in Greenwich.  Senator Thomas Dodd sent a telegram sympathizing with the cause of the marchers.  Reverend Stivers from Old Greenwich likened the movement to a revolution rooted in the religious traditions of brotherhood.  He also condemned the violence in Selma.  Although voting wasn't an issue in Greenwich, Reverend Stivers talked of inequality in housing and employment.  Reverend Leon Burnham of Bethel A.M.E. Church urged residents to fight for adequate housing and education for all.  Rabbi Moshe Davidowitz from Temple Sholom asked the congregation to fight for legislation to end discrimination.  Although policemen were present to direct traffic, there were no incidents of violence and the activities ended peaceably.

This was not true of the march in Selma.  Sherriff James C. Clark barred 500 black and white marchers from participating in a memorial service for Reverend Reeb.  State Troopers were staged several blocks away as backup.  KKK members were also in attendance, and several got rowdy and had to be carted away. Clark claimed the marchers would disrupt voter registration at the Courthouse.  He said the marchers were offered a municipal stadium, but had turned down the offer.  Marches and memorial services were being held all over the country.  In response, prayer vigils were held in the streets of Selma.   A federal judge intervened and filed an injunction to let the marchers proceed.

It seems only natural that clergy of all faiths would be at the forefront of the fight for Civil Rights.  They led peaceful demonstrations, and called for treating all people (regardless of color) with dignity.  Blacks should have equal rights when it came to employment, housing, education and health services.  Discrimination should no longer be tolerated.  People should be judged, not by the color of their skin, but by their individual character.  These brave men were also victims of violence;  but they stayed committed to their cause.  It's because of their efforts that conditions improved.  There is still a lot to be done, and there is no doubt people like these will be at the forefront.

SOURCE

The Greenwich Time








Historical Happenings

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Greenwich History
Tuesday - August 5th - 5 PM
Darby and Friends - WGCH Radio

Local History Librarian Carl White will talk about the history of
Glenville on WGCH 1490 AM radio.  Follows last month's
discussion on Byram.  The interviewer is Darby Cartun.


Cult Film - "On Her Majesty's Secret Service"
Thursday - August 14th - 6 PM
Meeting Room - Greenwich Library

Librarian Ed Morrissey continues his unique and entertaining
program on historic films.  This James Bond film stars
George Lazenby, Diana Rigg and Telly Savalas.  Keep posted
for future viewings!  Free program.  No registration needed.

Chickahominy

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Although it's easier to determine the origin of the names of some parts of Town (ex. Round Hill, Stanwich and Pemberwick), this is not the case with that section of town between Belle Haven and Byram known as Chickahominy.  This is the area bounded roughly by the Post Road (West Putnam Avenue) to the north, Prospect Street to the east, the railroad to the south and the Transfer Station to the west.   If you drive down Hamilton Avenue toward Byram Shore, you run right through it.  Its landmarks include Castiglione's Funeral Home, Hamilton Avenue Deli, Express Pizza, Garden Catering, the Two Door Saloon, Hamilton Avenue School, St. Roch's Church, Armstrong Court and Bimbo Bakery.  The most widely accepted explanation for the origin of the name is that veterans of the Civil War, who fought in the famous Battle of Chickahominy, returned to the area and nicknamed the community.  

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SOURCE:  NEW YORK TIMES

The Chickahominy River was a tributary to the famous James River in Virginia.  It runs 25-miles from northwest of Richmond to Cheseapeake Bay.  There's no town or area by this name.  Some believe Chickahominy refers to an Indian tribe that populated the area.  It's translation is "coarse ground corn people".  Both the Union and Confederate armies devised plans to use the river to surprise their enemy during the Civil War, but they were faced with many obstacles and several expeditions had little affect on the outcome. 

During the 1800s, Italian stonemasons, tailors, shoemakers came to Greenwich.  They helped build churches, schools, homes, worked on estates and tilled the soil.  Yet, they were ostracized for their differences.  Italians couldn't afford to live in other, more expensive parts of town, and settled in Chickahominy. They were preceded by the Germans and the Irish. By the 1900s, many more Italians immigrated to Greenwich, and worked in Cos Cob, North Mianus and Stamford.  Many people from Chickahominy also worked in the manufacturing factories in Port Chester.

Family was the most important thing in their lives, and many strived to earn enough money to buy homes. The Italian stonemasons built St. Roch's Church themselves around 1920. Each August they celebrate the Feast of St. Roch's with ethnic food, carnival rides and music. It's a great opportunity to celebrate their culture.  The Church is the center of their social life.

st roch033.jpg

SOURCE:  GREENWICH LIBRARY PHOTO COLLECTION


Chickahominy is one of many diverse neighborhoods that give Greenwich its identity.  Many of its residents have contributed much in the way of public service to the Town.  Ms. Josephine Evaristo served on the RTM for many years, and constantly advocated for her community.  Our current First Selectman, Peter Tesei, grew up in Chickahominy.

It's a proud community.  The residents helped to build this Town.  Many attended Hamilton Avenue School.  Most are members of St. Roch's Church.  There is no doubt that future generations will continue to contribute to this important neighborhood as well as the rest of Greenwich.


SOURCES


Greenwich Magazine; Moffly Publications, Greenwich CT.

Greenwich TimeTime-Warner Corp, Greenwich CT

Ye Historie of Ye Town of Greenwich: Mead, S.; Knickerbocher Press NY, 1913


Historical Happenings

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John Dean and Watergate
Tuesday - July 29 - 7 PM
Cole Auditorium - Greenwich Library

Former Nixon legal counsel John Dean will talk about his new book
about Nixon and the Watergate coverup.  Free and open to the public.


Greenwich History
Wednesday - 5 PM
Darby and Friends - WGCH Radio

Local history Librarian Carl White will talk about the Byram section
of town on WGCH 1490 Radio.

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