Wilton: Siwanog Tribe, English Parish, American Town
A new exhibition has just opened in the 1740 Betts House at the Wilton Historical Society. In Wilton: Siwanog Tribe, English Parish, American Town, the early history of Wilton is traced through a selection of rarely seen objects from the Permanent Collection. Native Americans lived in Wilton long before the arrival of Europeans. Members of the Siwanog tribe farmed, hunted, and fished in the fertile Norwalk River Valley in an area they called Pimpewaug. Wilton’s first permanent English settlers were Jonathan Wood and his family, who moved from Long Island in 1706. By 1720, over a dozen families had established homesteads, including the Keelers, the Abbotts, and the Lamberts. At the turn of the 19th century, after decades under the jurisdiction of Norwalk, Wilton voted to separate in August of 1801. A petition of independence was submitted to the Connecticut General Assembly in October, which was approved on May 20, 1802. With that, the town of Wilton was established.
Included in the exhibition are Ponus tribe beaded moccasins and a pre-1800s indigenous bead necklace; a sumptuous crimson silk waistcoat c. 1760, which was formal-wear for a Colonial gentleman; and a dainty pair of lady’s wedding shoes, c. 1742. A land deed between Ezekiel Wood and Azor Belden from 1755 is on display, as well as two marvelously preserved Yale University diplomas, one from 1761 and one from 1762, both awarded to David Lambert II. “Based on these and other diverse objects, we came to realize that there were many cultural influences in this time period, even in a small, insular farming community. The early colonial residents of Wilton had porcelain objects inspired by China, fashion from Europe, and metal goods based on Native American tools” commented exhibition designer, Associate Curator Nick Foster.