The Voluntown Historical Society

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The Voluntown Historical Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting a better understanding of Voluntown’s unique heritage by education, preservation, and sharing our resources with the community, and establishing its relevance to the development of our country.
The Voluntown Historical Society meets the 3rd Wednesday of each month at the Voluntown Town Hall, at 7pm EST.

Please join us!
Anyone insterested in joining our cause is welcome to attend our meetings and meet our fantastic members.  We request that members pay an annual fee of $10 per year, due in June.


Important
Announcment
 


Notice of Special Town Meeting - Tuesday, March 28, 2107

7pm
Voluntown Elementary School Gym

Is Voluntown's history important to you?

Whether or not you're a VHS member, as a visitor to this page we think that the answer to that question is a resounding "YES!" If that is the case, we hope you will be as excited as we are about an upcoming Town meeting to be held on March 28th where residents will finally be given the opportunity to publicly weigh in with their opinion as to what we should collectively value of our Town's history. The citizens of Voluntown rarely have been given the opportunity to speak in a public forum about their views regarding historical preservation, either pro or con. In the past, public dialogue on this subject has been restricted or obstructed, with private self-interests directing the conversation rather than the taxpaying public being included as a whole.

Voluntown voters and property owners will be asked at this meeting to vote on the establishment of a Historic Properties Study Committee to study two properties, the Wylie Schoolhouse and the Methodist Church/Meeting House, for potential historic designation by the Town. If this Study Committee is approved, the Board of Selectmen are then authorized under State statute to appoint a committee of 5 members and 3 alternates of registered voters to serve as unpaid volunteers on this committee. The Study Committee would submit a report and recommendations for comment at the Town and State level followed by a Town meeting for public comments. Once all comments are received, a final report will be presented to the citizens of Voluntown who will then collectively decide to either accept or reject the report or return it to the Study Committee for additional revision.

Why embark on this process? In Voluntown's case, historic designation opens the door to seek multiple forms of grants from State, Federal and private sources and avoid any additional burden on taxpayers. It supports the Town's economic development efforts to promote eco-tourism to increase local revenues. And, down the road, it could benefit private owners whose properties are examined for historic designation by the Town in their efforts to preserve those sites and protect them from ultimately being demolished. How much better to leave something a bit more tangible than an historic plaque on a vacant lot when we arrive at our Tricentennial in four short years?

 We hope to see you there.



Officers

 

President - Jen Panko
Vice President - Julie Soto
Secretary - Beth Taylor,
Treasurer - Mary Anne Nieminen

Voluntown History

Voluntown history begins around 1696.  Pris froor to that time this part of Eastern Connecticut was primarily inhabited by various tribes of Indians who waged wars among themselves and with colonists from Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.  Pequots, Narragansetts, Mohegans, Wampanoags, Nipmunks and Pokanoets all played part in the early history.

King Philip's War (1675-1676) ended with the death of King Philip (Indian name Metacom, second son of Massasoit, sachem of several tribes) on August 12, 1676.  After the war, the Mohegans and Quinebaugs laid claim to the Voluntown area until 1705.

In 1643, the New England Confederation, a loose union to settly border disputes, was formed by Connecticut, New Haven, Plymouth and the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

In 1696, Lt. Thomas Leffingwell of Norwich and Sgt. John Frink of Stonington had petitioned agains the Assembly of New Haven for a Plantation for settlers who had found against the Indians.  Subsequently, although it took 9 years, a six mile square 160 lot plantation was granted - called Volunteer Town.  Disputes over boundaries occured for the next 16 years.  Swamps, rocks and poor soil made the area not very attractive.  Finally in 1721 Voluntown was incorporated.