Changes in Suffield, 1900-1920

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Suffield was spared a devastating impact of the Industrial Age when the town voted against The Hartford and New Haven Railroad running tracks through it in the early 1840s. As a result of that decision, our residents enjoy the serenity of country living with the convenience of Enfield commercialism. Instead of acres of malls and parking lots, we enjoy farms and rolling hills. The June meeting of the Suffield Historical Society will explore some of the ways that the Industrial Age did change our community. We hope you will join us.

In this day of self-driving or electric cars, it is hard to imagine what Suffield was like when some children were taken to school by a horse-drawn wagon and commuters rode a trolley to get to Hartford or Springfield. Today, Suffield has over 15,000 residents with extensive diversity. This presentation by Sara Zak of the Polish Heritage Society will discuss the variances within the population of approximately 3500 at the turn of the 20th century.

Whether you have lived your whole life in our farming community, emigrated here decades ago, or just recently moved to town, you will learn something new and interesting about Suffield’s history. For example, at the start of this focus period, there were 11 schoolhouses scattered around our 43 square miles. And, by 1919, when the tax revenue of Suffield was about $6 million, the largest individual taxpayer was George Hendee, the manufacturer of Indian motorcycles and owner of the Hilltop Farm, paying over $138,000. By contrast, the largest non-resident corporate taxpayer in the tobacco industry was Schuster Bros., paying $152,000.

Suffield Historical Society meetings are always open to the public. You do not need to be a member to attend. The next session will be on Wed. June 14 at 7 p.m. at the Second Baptist Church or on Zoom. Non-members may email for a Zoom invitation.

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