The Cupheag Crier
Lew Knapp recalls Lobell’s Farm

Lew Knapp recalls Lobell’s Farm

May 20, 2019

In December 18, 1994 recorded his memories of William Irving Lobdell's farm.  Lew began working on Lobdell's farm at age 5 as Lew tried to help his widowed mother with household expenses.  Lobdell's farm house was located at 317 Huntington Road and is still standing today.  Lobdell's farm was located between Huntington Road and Freeman Avenue.  Mr. Lobdell was born in 1855 and died in 1954.  In the 1920's and 1930's the farm was one of many "truck" farms in Stratford which began disappearing during World War II.  The farm was 15 acres in size.  

Lew recalls the products grown and marketed from Lobdell's farm, the layout and operation of the farm, and the seasonal activities performed on the farm.  He relates some charming memories of Mr. Wilcoxson, of Wilcoxson's farm, and of Mr. Spamer and his cigars.  Lew tells how Mr. Lobdell would drive to the circus grounds in Bridgeport to pickup elephant manure to fertilize his fields.  All-in-all, this is an historical tale of a largely forgotten Stratford.

Elizabeth Sammis discusses early Stratford history

Elizabeth Sammis discusses early Stratford history

May 12, 2019

This recording was made of Mrs. Frank (Elizabeth) Sammis at the Judson House in 1955.  Mrs. Sammis lived her entire life in Stratford.  When she married Frank Sammis, they bought a home on Academy Hill.  Mrs. Sammis was one of the founders of the Stratford Historical Society, and its curator for 30 years.  She was born in December 1861 and was 94 at the time of this interview.  She was also Donald Sammis' mother.  Donald Sammis was Town Manager from 1932 through 1934.

Mrs. Sammis discusses many interesting facts in this interview: a tunnel from the flagpole on Academy Hill which ran to the Judson House; Stratford's District schools; witchcraft and witch's rock at Linden and West Broad; Phelps Mansion haunting; Moses Wheeler who was born in 1698 was the first man to live to 100 in Connecticut; manufacturing in Stratford; railroad coming to Stratford in 1853; her parents welcomed the first train to Stratford in 1853; William Judson having slaves; the cost of those slaves; bars on the windows of Judson House to keep Indians out; origin of saltbox houses; her father being held in Andersonville prison and coming home from the Civil War when Elizabeth was 4.5 years old; and, lastly, William Samuel Johnson who was the most famous man in Connecticut during his lifetime.

The recording ends with Frederick C. Booth (age 74), Mrs. Sammis replacement as Historical Society Curator, recounting the important people who've lived in Stratford.

 

Donald Sammis and William Howard Wilcoxson discuss Stratford history with Lew Knapp

Donald Sammis and William Howard Wilcoxson discuss Stratford history with Lew Knapp

May 5, 2019

This is a classic Stratford history recording.  In one room, simultaneously, sat three men discussing Stratford's history who undoubtedly knew more of Stratford's history than any other three people similarly assembled at that time or since.  The recording was made February 8, 1964.  Lew and Vivienne Knapp interviewed Donald Sammis (Stratford's first "home grown" Town Manager) and William Howard Wilcoxson (long time Stratford Town Clerk and Town Historian).  Lew was 43, Donald Sammis was 74, and William Howard Wilcoxson was 68 at the time this recording was made.

 

Anyone who has studied Stratford's history from the early years of the 20th century knows what fine, generous, kind, and highly regarded man James Lally, Stratford's last First Selectman, was.  Likely recorded nowhere else, however, is Mr. Lally's predilection for tobacco spitting and the accuracy of his expectorations.

The fight for Stratford's Council-Manager form of government is discussed at some length.  It's likely no other existent account of that fight records what a major role Donald Sammis played in winning that form of government.  Mr. Sammis describes the men who preceded him as Town Manager, and his time as Town Manager.

Also, likely unknown is how little regard the Boothe brothers had for Stratford's Selectman form of government.  David Boothe basically bailed the town out of very bad financial straights during the great depression by paying his taxes early.  He did so, however, only because he trusted Donald Sammis and the Manager-Council form of government.

Mr. Sammis describes creating Roosevelt Forest.  There is much rumor and conjecture about the formation of Roosevelt Forest.  Mr. Sammis clears all that up in this recording and goes on to describe all the locations in town where stone from the quarry in Roosevelt Forest was used for building and curb constructions.

It's well known the Federal government helped in the funding of today's Town Hall.  It's doubtful that any other account records just how large the Federal government's role was in Town Hall's construction.

Old Town Hall (in Stratford Center where I-95 crosses Main Street) is described in detail and the removal of the Post Office from Selleck Place to the old Town Hall is recorded.  The Post Office was forced to move after fire destroyed the Post Office at Selleck Place and Main Street.

Lastly, the founding of the Stratford Historical Society is retold, at length, including the transition of the ownership of the Judson House from the Curtiss sisters to the Historical Society.

Dick Steele interviews Betty Applegate in 2004

Dick Steele interviews Betty Applegate in 2004

April 28, 2019

"Elizabeth P. Applegate, age 95, a life long resident of Stratford passed away peacefully on Saturday, September 26, 2015 at her home. She was the widow of Russel C. Applegate Jr. She graduated from Stratford High School in 1937. She attended Pembroke College (Brown University) and earned a degree in nursing in 1942.

Betty was involved in many organizations including Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, 4H Club, PTA and many activities at Christ Episcopal her church. In later years she became a docent for Stratford Historical Society and Boothe Memorial Park. She was a member of the Housatonic Boat Club and participated in duckpin bowling for many years".  Foregoing from the September 27th, 2015 Connecticut Post.

At the time of this interview, Betty was 84 and Dick Steele was 82.  The recording is hard to hear, but very informative.  Betty reflects on her mother's birth in the house now known as the Perry House, trolleys in Stratford, schools in Stratford, life in Putney, duck pin bowling, and the Mollison plane crash in 1933 in Great Meadows Marsh.

Elden Dustin interviews Cecilie M. Krueger in 1982

Elden Dustin interviews Cecilie M. Krueger in 1982

April 21, 2019

Cecilie Marie Georgy Moore Krueger was born in Brooklyn, New York October 7, 1891.  She graduated from Columbia University in New York City in 1912.  At some point prior to 1920, she met and married Theodore Henry Carl Krueger who was born in Nebraska in 1889.  The two of them lived, for a time, in Manhattan and at some point, prior to 1930, moved to the Putney section of Stratford.

The Krueger house was located at 5590 Main Street which house is adjacent to the Putney Cemetery.  In 1933 Mrs. Krueger gave birth to her only child, Theodore.  She lived the remainder of her life in this house and passed away June 18, 1991.

Former Stratford Historical Society President, Elden Dustin, and his wife, interviewed Mrs. Kreuger in her home in Putney in 1982.  Mrs. Kreuger described life in Putney up through the World War II era.  She related her experiences of living next to the Boothe brothers.  The recording ends suddenly likely due to the cassette tape filling up.

Sea Captains of Stratford by Lew Knapp

Sea Captains of Stratford by Lew Knapp

April 13, 2019

Long time former Town Historian, Lewis Knapp, discusses sea captains who lived in Stratford.  The recording is of a speech Lew gave May 24, 1974.  Much of the research Lew did for this speech was later recorded in his books "In Pursuit of Paradise" and "Stratford and the Sea".  Lew posits a theory in this speech as to how the first settlers traveled to Stratford.  By 1989, he'd greatly altered this theory when he wrote In Pursuit of Paradise.  This recording ends very suddenly at about 60 minutes when the cassette used to record Lew's speech was full.  Apparently, the person recording Lew's speech didn't have an additional blank cassette available.

Lewis Knapp was born in 1923 and passed away May 15, 2014 which, coincidentally, was the year of the town's 375th anniversary.  Lew was Town Historian for many years and was very actively involved in the Stratford Historical Society.  Mr. Knapp was Past President of the Stratford Historical Society; developed the Historic District Commission and established the Academy Hill Historic District.

Episodes I Saw or Heard (CONTINUED) by Harold C. Lovell, Sr.

Episodes I Saw or Heard (CONTINUED) by Harold C. Lovell, Sr.

April 6, 2019

This recording was made at a Stratford Historical Society picnic at Boothe Park on July 1960.  Mr. Lovell was 74 years old.  He relates his humorous stories of living in Stratford over those 74 years.  This is a continuation of the speech Mr. Lovell gave to the Historical Society one year earlier.  

Harold Lovell, Sr. was born in Stratford in 1886.  He lived his entire life in town.  He was active in the town and in the town's government.  He was on the Board of the Stratford Trust Company.  He was also a humorist.  Lew Knapp wrote of Harold Lovell in his historic book, In Pursuit of Paradise, "Harold lovell was voted 'best dispositioned' in his class at Bridgeport High in 1905. He never lost his sense of the ridiculous - all his life, his stories held his listeners spellbound."  Mr. Lovell built the Lovell Hardware building which still stands in Stratford Center.  Mr. Lovell died March 19, 1969.  

Episodes I Saw or Heard by Harold C. Lovell, Sr.

Episodes I Saw or Heard by Harold C. Lovell, Sr.

April 6, 2019

Harold Lovell, Sr. was born in Stratford in 1886.  He lived his entire life in town.  He was active in the town and in the town's government.  He was on the Board of the Stratford Trust Company.  He was also a humorist.  Lew Knapp wrote of Harold Lovell in his historic book, In Pursuit of Paradise, "Harold lovell was voted 'best dispositioned' in his class at Bridgeport High in 1905. He never lost his sense of the ridiculous - all his life, his stories held his listeners spellbound."  Mr. Lovell built the Lovell Hardware building which still stands in Stratford Center.  Mr. Lovell died March 19, 1969.  

This recording was made at a Stratford Historical Society picnic at Boothe Park on July 24, 1959.  Mr. Lovell was 73 years old.  He relates his humorous stories of living in Stratford over those 73 years and tells of schools, mosquitoes, Center School teachers and principal, lack of sanitation at the Center School, town government, town meetings, being a fire fighter, being on the Board of Education, and being the Town Clerk.

Interview with Frederic Curtis Booth January 21, 1964

Interview with Frederic Curtis Booth January 21, 1964

April 5, 2019

Frederic Curtis Booth was born in 1881.  He was the Curator for the Stratford Historical Society from 1954 -1969.  Mr. Booth recounts his memories of Stratford Center, Putney, and Oronoque including the Peck's Mill Disaster in 1899.  Mr. Booth died on June 17, 1969.  His interviewers were Vivienne Knapp, Jane Calkins, and Edmund Judson.  (The photo to the left shows Mr. Booth working his farm in the 1930s).

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