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.  

ChickMap696.jpg

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


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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Carl White published on July 25, 2014 12:13 PM.

Historical Happenings was the previous entry in this blog.

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