January 09, 2013

Fun with Maps

My friend at the Confessions of an Antique Home blog sent me a link to a 19th century map of Fairfield County that I hadn't seen before.  Clark's Map of Fairfield County, published in 1856, places and identifies all homes in the county.  Which is awesome.  After a few minutes of applying my very poor map skills to a scanned version of the map, I was able to locate my house.  There it is, just next to the New Canaan border, at the so-called Four Corners.  Very cool.

From Clark's Map of Fairfield County - 1856

What is less cool is that the house is labeled as that of J. Comstock.  Huh?  I know that in 1856, the house was owned by Esther Comstock, who had inherited the property from her father, Enos Kellogg.  While Esther appears to have lived elsewhere by the time of the 1850 census,  residing in the Enos Kellogg Homestead were Esther's son, George Edwin (Sr.), his wife Mary (Dibble) Comstock, and their children, Hannah, Walter, William, George Edwin (Jr.), Agnes and Rebecca.  Eight people, and not a J name among the bunch.  Damn maps.  Just when you think you know what was going on with your house, something like this comes along to make you second guess yourself.
Oh well.  My explanation is that when you're mapping out a couple thousand properties in the county, you're bound to make a few typos.  Maybe the J should have been an E for Esther, or a G for George.  As the old Tootsie Roll commercial says, the world may never know. 
The good news is that by 1867, with the publication of the Beers map of the Town of Norwalk, all was right in the cartographic world, with the property identified as that of Mrs. M. Comstock.  With Esther Comstock's death in 1864, the property passed onto her grandchildren, and was presided over by Mary (Mrs. M.), listed in the 1870 census as "keeping house". 

Beers Map of the Town of Norwalk - 1867

Just a few other things on the Clark map that are interesting (to me, that is - probably not to anyone else):
To the southeast of my house is a large tract of land labeled E. Kellogg.  This is the property of Enos Kellogg, great nephew and namesake of "my" Enos Kellogg.  Original Recipe Enos had raised Enos II's orphaned father, Matthew Kellogg, in our house, and Matthew, in turn, named hist first-born son in his honor.  The house of Enos II, located on Fox Run Road, still stands.  Enos II went on to serve with distinction in the Civil War.  As described in the History of the Seventeenth Connecticut by Colonel William H. Noble:
"Captain of Company H, Enos Kellogg, of New Canaan; a gallant officer; in the battles of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, and in the trenches on Morris Island. At Volusia, Fla., with only fifty men, seventy-five miles from any other Union force, he so fortified his position, aided by Lieut. Ruggles of Company K, that he frightened off the rebel captain Dickenson with his artillery and two hundred mounted rifleman."
Later in his life, Enos II was a Founder and Superintendent of Norwalk's Riverside Cemetery, to which he also contributed seven acres of his property.  He is buried there.
The other aspect of the Clark Map that is of interest with respect to our house is the readily apparent location of the "Four Corners", the intersection of Ponus Avenue, Carter Street and New Canaan Avenue.  The location of our house and the Comstock Brothers/Comstock & Lyon nursery is frequently described in 19th and early 20th century documents as being at Four Corners.  With the construction of the Merritt Parkway in the 1930s, the Four Corners intersection was destroyed, and the location name was relegated to the scrap heap of local history.

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