Horseneck

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At one time, a good portion of central Greenwich was known as "Horseneck".  Research indicates that the term was used as early as 1669.  That year the Town Meeting discussed the idea of establishing a settlement in this area.  In 1670, a committee was created to lay out 30 lots of 4-acres each on land near what is now called Horseneck Brook near Field Point (Belle Haven).  The local Native-Americans (Indians) sold what was known as Horseneck Plantation in 1686.  It included all the land from the Mianus River to the Byram River, north to the New York state line with the exception of some land in Cos Cob (i.e. Indian Field).

horseneck466.jpg

There were "27 Proprietors" or landowners who received lots south of the "Country Road".   Field Point was designated as a common pasture for settler's horses.  A field fence was erected on the north side of the peninsula, probably to mark the grazing area.  Since Field Point was a peninsula (neck) with water on 3 sides, and since it was used to graze horses, this was probably the derivation for the name "Horseneck".  The Proprietors gave it the name "Horseneck Field Point".  After the ecclesiasticasl division of the town into the First and Second Socities, central Greenwich was commonly called Horseneck.  This was also used interchangeably with the Borough of Greenwich and West Greenwich.  When the railroad pushed through Greenwich in 1848, the name was considered "low class", and changed to Greenwich (probably after Greenwich, England).

Once the settlers adopted the name "Horseneck", it was widely used to describe a number of features in Town. The waterway that flowed across the entire Greenwich area from Converse Pond to Greenwich Harbor was called "Horseneck Brook".  It's also referred to as "Horseneck River" and "Horseneck Creek".  A wharf located in front of what is now the Boys & Girls Club was named the "Horseneck Brook Dock".  The first permanent structure assocoiated with Christ Church was "Horseneck Chapel" on Put's Hill.  A hurricane on September 3, 1821 destroyed the chapel.  "Horseneck Falls" on the brook off Round Hill Road were located on the property of artist John Twachtman, who immortalized them in a painting.  Since the brook empties into Greenwich Harbor, it was called "Horseneck Harbor" in the 18th century.  The hill where the Second Congregational Church was built was called "Horseneck Hill".   "Horseneck Lane" runs in front of the Boys & Girls Club, and connects with Field Point Road.  The "Horseneck Meeting House" once stood on the hill occupied by the Second Congregational Church.  Lake Avenue used to be called "Horseneck Road" even though it didn't extend to Horseneck Brook; but it did lead into the center of town.  Frank Haggerty operated a saloon on Greenwich Avenue known as "Horseneck Tavern".  It was a "speak easy" during Prohibition (e.g. liquor was served there illegally).  In an Oral History interview in 1984, resident Henry Minchin mentioned there was a "Horseneck Tavern" on the corner of Maher and Putnam Avenues. 

An aerial map of Belle Haven shows an oval road in the center of the peninsula which was used for horse racing at one time.  Judge Hubbard talks about sleigh rides in the area during the winter.  People would travel between houses this way - especially for holiday parties.  Horse races were held along Putnam Avenue to Put's Hill at one time.  There were several liveries in town, also.  If you didn't own a horse and sleigh, you could apparently rent one.  Horses were common on many of the early farms in town as work animals.  Today, there are some horses in back country, and the annual Polo games in the Conyers Farm area are quite popular;  but it will never be the same as it was in the early history of Greenwich.


SOURCES

Greenwich Before 2000; Richardson, S, Editor;  Historical Society of the Town of Greenwich; 2000.

Greenwich History: The Judge's Corner; Hubbard, F; Nicholson, F, Round Hill Publications; 2001

The History of the Town of Greenwich; Mead, S; Harbor Hill Books, reprint; 1979


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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Carl White published on December 18, 2013 2:48 PM.

Historical Happenings was the previous entry in this blog.

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