Connecticut River Museum, Essex
Connecticut River Museum, Essex – Rich Bruchal

Essex, in Middlesex County, is located in southern Connecticut and lies on the Connecticut River. Originally part of Saybrook and called the Potapaug Quarter, it separated and became a town in 1852, receiving the name Essex in 1854. The villages of Ivoryton and Centerbrook became a part of Essex in 1859. With a history of shipbuilding, Essex was the main port of Saybrook until 1871. The town is known for building the state’s first battleship in 1774, the Oliver Cromwell, and for the British raid and burning of twenty-eight ships in the harbor during the War of 1812.


Detail from View of Essex, Centerbrook & Ivoryton, Conn. 1881

The British Raid on Essex

On a cold April night in 1814 a British raiding force rowed six miles up the Connecticut River to burn the privateers of Essex, then known as Pettipaug. The raiders torched 27 ships and took or destroyed thousands of dollars’ in other supplies. …[more]



“The Company of Fifers and Drummers,” 2012. Link.


Ribchinsky, Gary. Legacies of White Gold. DVD. Ivoryton, CT: Ivoryton Library, 2006.


“Connecticut River Museum,” 2016. Link.
“Connecticut Valley Railroad State Park.” Department of Energy & Environmental Protection, 2012. Link.
“Essex Historical Society,” 2016. Link.
“Essex Steam Train,” 2012. Link.
“Ivoryton Playhouse,” 2012. Link.


“Bottle Label - Dickinson’s Witch Hazel, Contains Alcohol 14% Absolute, Bottled at Distillery, E. E. Dickinson & Co., Essex, Conn., Double Distilled, 20 Pounds Brush to the Gallon.” E. E. Dickinson Co., ca. 1940s. University of Connecticut Libraries, Archives & Special Collections and Connecticut History Online. Link.
“Essex- WPA Architectural Survey.” Connecticut State Library Digital Collections, 2014. Link.
Marsh, Major Ely. “Manuscript: Request for Surrender,” April 8, 1814. Connecticut Historical Society.
Woodford, E. M. “Map of the Towns of Saybrook and Old Saybrook, Middlesex County, Connecticut Surveyed and Drawn by E.m. Woodford, Lith. of Friend & Aub., Wagner & Mcguigan’s Steam Lith. Press.” Philadelphia, PA: R. Clark, 1853. Connecticut Historical Society. Link.
“View of Essex, Centerbrook & Ivoryton, Conn. 1881.” Bird’s-eye Map. Boston: O.H. Bailey & Company, 1881. University of Connecticut Libraries, Map and Geographic Information Center - MAGIC. Link.


Magonigle, Harold. An Architectural Monograph on Essex: A Connecticut River Town. New York: R.F. Whitehead, 1919. Link.
Ivoryton Library Association, and Robbi Storms. Around Essex: Elephants and River Gods. Charleston,  SC: Arcadia, 2001.
Beers, F. W. County Atlas of Middlesex, Connecticut: From Actual Surveys. New York, NY: F.W. Beers & Company, 1874. Link.
Beers, J.B., & Company, and Henry Whittemore. History of Middlesex County, Connecticut, with Biographical Sketches of Its Prominent Men. New York, NY: J.B. Beers & Company, 1884. Link.
Stevens, Thomas. Potapoug Quarter: The First Settlers of Essex, Connecticut. Essex,  CT: Connecticut River Foundation, 1984.
Essex Historical Society, and Russell Anderson. The British Raid on Essex: April 8, 1814. Essex, CT: Essex Historical Society, 1981.
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