Litchfield’s Historical Memories
By Gavi Klein
Photo credit: Collection of the Litchfield Historical Society, Litchfield, Connecticut.
Esther H. Thompson’s (1851-1929) memories offer a key personal touch to recorded Litchfield history in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Thompson’s familial connection to the land dates back generations before her lifetime, when her great-grandparents began farming in Bethlehem. In the early 1800s, Thompson’s father moved to Litchfield, and built the house in which his daughter would spend her entire life. Thompson would go on to reflect her rich connection to Litchfield in her writing, documenting the community, history, and land which she had been observing since her youth. She was particularly fascinated with botany, and documented much of the natural world around her for future Litchfield residents. Possibly Thompson’s most significant observations were those of the Civil War, namely, her childhood recollection of troops gathering on the town green. In addition, Thompson offered original knowledge of the life of William Grimes, author of what is known as the first slave narrative. In addition to her writings, Thompson was treasurer of multiple organizations in Litchfield, including the Litchfield chapter of the Red Cross and the Village Improvement Society, thus working to improve the physical and aesthetic health of her hometown. Her historical work appeared in multiple local newspapers of the time, and remains to this day a valued record of a critical period in national history.
Thompson Family Papers, 1929-01-0, Litchfield Historical Society, Helga J. Ingraham Memorial Library, P.O. Box 385, 7 South Street, Litchfield, Connecticut, 06759.
Esther H. Thompson, 1823-1929, Box: 1-5. Thompson Family Papers, 1929-01-0. Litchfield Historical Society.