July 17, 2014
By ROSA CICCIO | Hartford Courant
HOW IT GOT ITS NAME: From Maj. Moses Mansfield of New Haven who, due to his success in the Indian wars, was given a large tract of land in the area.
ORIGINS: Originally part of Windham, the area was settled around 1692, when part of a parcel known as Joshua's Tract was acquired by a group of men from Norwich. Mansfield was incorporated as a separate town in 1702.
INDUSTRY: While farming and small mills made up the town's earliest industry, silk would become the town's biggest business enterprise in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In 1760, Nathaniel Aspinwell planted a mulberry orchard and brought the first silkworm eggs to the area, starting a trend that by 1800 had an estimated 75 percent of town residents raising silkworms in their homes. The Hanks Silk Mill, built in 1810, was the first water-powered silk mill in America. More recently, education has been the town's main industry with the establishment of the University of Connecticut in the town's Storrs section in 1881.
DID YOU KNOW? In 2005, Slate magazine named the Mansfield/Storrs area America's Best Place to Avoid Death Due to Natural Disaster.
NOTABLE RESIDENTS: Connecticut Gov. Wilbur Cross; Charles Emory Smith, postmaster general under Presidents McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt; musicians Peter Tork, Rivers Cuomo and Wendy O. Williams; journalists Dave Lindor and Tim Page; and author Wally Lamb.
SOURCES: The Hartford Courant; Connecticut Place Names (Hughes/Allen); mansfield-history.org; mansfieldct.gov; doddcenter.uconn.edu; slate.com; counterpunch.org; beingpublicradio.org; CT State Register and Manual.