At one time, Greenwich was a loose collection of villages. These included Round Hill, Stanwich, Riversville and Banksville. Churches were built in these areas and became the center of the community. People started farms to grow food, then started selling the excess as a way to make income. Banksville became sort of a commercial center for northern Greenwich. Finch's Country Store, one of the first businesses in Banksville, still operates today. Not too long ago there was an IGA Market, a hardware store and a restaurant in a shopping center. There was also a building which housed a liquor store and a tailor. This building was previously occupied by Miss Purdy's School.
Located opposite what was once the Post Office, Miss Purdy's Seminary for Young Ladies was started in the mid-1850s by Miss Ann Purdy, a transplant from Syracuse, New York. It was started as a boarding school for girls, but quickly expanded to include boys. The school was so successful, even with an addition to the building, some students had to board nearby!
Miss Purdy realized there was not a lot going on socially in Banksville. Greenwich was not much better! She decided to enlist the services of Silas Derby. (Derby had been Postmaster in Banksville at one time.) She saw the need for a daily stage to Greenwich. Her students could take a stage to the railroad station or catch the steamer John Romer to New York City. Miss Purdy lent $100 to Derby to start the Banksville Stage Coach Company. Derby would leave Banksville at 6 am, arrive at the dock for the steamer at 7, then end up at the railroad station by 7:21 am. Sometimes he would spend the whole day at John Dayton's Shoe Store. Sometimes members of "Boss" Tweed's Americus Club would hire him to drive to Rye Beach or Stamford. (If Tweed accompanied them, he would always sit up front.) Derby also managed to carry some mail as a side business, and once had a contract from the Postal Service to bring mail to Banksville.
Miss Purdy's School only lasted about 15 years. Silas Derby, on the other hand, ran the stage for 35 years. Some passengers thought the stage was modern, up-to-date and comfortable. Unfortunately, the roads weren't! Derby retired around 1900 and lived in the Banksville area. It was around this time that automobiles were beginning to make their mark. Yet, Miss Purdy's School and Silas Derby will forever be an important part of Banksville history.
SOURCE: Other Days in Greenwich; Hubbard, F.; Tappley,NYC, 1913.