July 17, 2014
By ROSA CICCIO | Hartford Courant
HOW IT GOT ITS NAME: From Preston in Lancashire, England, ancestral home of Thomas Parke, one of the town's early settlers.
ORIGINS: Permanent settlement began in 1686, when the General Court granted a petition to "erect a plantation on the east side of Norwich bounds." In 1687, the Mohegan chief Owaneco deeded a 5-mile-long tract of land to captains James Fitch and Josiah Standish, Thomas Parke and others living in what was then called New Preston. The name was soon shortened to Preston.
EARLY INDUSTRY: Besides farming, the town's early industries included leather tanning, shoe making, clock making, shipbuilding in the Poquetanuck section and brick making along Brickyard Road.
PLANE CRASH: In August 1954, an Air France Super Constellation bound for Mexico City from Paris made an emergency crash landing at a Preston farm along Route 165 because it was running out of fuel. The plane had not been able to land in New York for refueling because of heavy rain. All 37 people on board survived, although 11 had to be hospitalized.
NOTABLE RESIDENTS: Isaac E. Crary, U.S. Congressman and founder of the Michigan public school system; composer William Howard Doane; abolitionist author Beriah Green; canine psychologist Clarence Ellis Harbison; author and newspaper editor George D. Prentice; abolitionist Henry Brewster Stanton; and artist Joseph Steward.