Category Archives: Easton’s history



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If you want to know what Bill Kupinse meant to Easton, best to know what Easton meant to him. That’s easy enough. After his family and his beloved wife, Pat, Easton meant almost everything. 

  From Silverman’s, on down the road to Greiser’s.   From the Saugatuck, on over to the Hemlock.  From the Aspetuck River, over to the Mill River.  East to west, north to south. All of it, as if a famous line from a famous song appealed to him: This land was made for you and me…

 This land was certainly made for Bill.  

 He had an unusual bond to the land, an enlightened bond. It was rooted in the past, when Easton was a hard-scrabble farm town which seemed especially adept at growing rocks. A couple hundred years ago, those rocks were stacked into stone walls. Those cleaved the woodlands, representing someone’s hard work and also their futility.

  Who was that “someone,” he wondered. Were their lives and efforts in vain? 

  With a few notable and enduring exceptions — the Edwards or Sherwood’s, for example  — most farmers abandoned Easton in and around 1900. They were happy (or not) to take whatever Bridgeport Hydraulic offered. Their fields turned to brush, brush to trees. Nature rebounded. The Easton past receded and in places disappeared altogether. Easton became a “reservoir town.” Its number-one promoter called it the “Jewel of Fairfield County.” 

  That number-one promoter knew “jewels” were easily tarnished, easily lost. When that happened, the past was lost and in the bargain, dishonored. He refused to allow that to happen. 

  In 1972, he helped found Citizens for Easton. It opposed the construction of GE’s corporate headquarters off of South Park. GE gave up, and went across the Merritt instead.

 Soon, more challenges to long-standing zoning regulations appeared. Some wanted to commercialize parts of town, or terminate three-acre zoning. Some wanted to build cluster housing. One wanted to put in street lights. 

 To have just one commercial district would not change the character of the town insisted its proponents, but Bill knew otherwise. It was never about one proposal, but the aggregate of the proposals. Bill’s famous “Camel in the tent” theory. Precedents would be set. One after another. Like dominoes, or stonewalls. A condo complex on one abandoned farm would be followed by a condo complex on another.  A “commercial district” here, eventually a Target there. 

  Nothing against condos, commercial districts or Targets. Like all of us, he patronized them. He wasn’t against anything. Bill was for something — that past, for those who came before, and especially for those who would come in the future. 

  What is the role of a “citizen”? He wondered about that too. Seems obvious, or superficial enough. Not to Bill. A citizen is someone who believes that he or she has an obligation to other citizens — those living, those gone, those yet to come. It was a complex configuration, a multifaceted one, but not for him. We’re all part of a community and our responsibility is to that community. That’s what a citizen does, who a citizen is. Who he was.

 Who was Bill? He was old school. Of course he was. He spoke quietly. He wore a conservative gray suit. His tie was never loosened. He had a slight stoop in his shoulders.  He walked with purpose. 

  Bill Kupinse was an honorable man. We’re blessed to have known him. Above all, Easton was blessed.




Tryon’s 1777 Burning of Danbury & the Battle of Ridgefield

Tryon's Raid 1777


Please join us in the main conference room at the Easton Public Library on Morehouse Road in Easton on Sunday, October 27th at 4:00 PM for a presentation by Ed Hynes on the 1777 Raid on Danbury and the subsequent Battle of Ridgefield. April of 1777 saw the only British forces pass through what is today’s Easton on their way to capture the Continental Armies storehouses in Danbury. Learn about the march and the confrontations between the opposing forces. Admission is free, however donations to the Historical Society of Easton are most appreciated




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It was a successful day despite the weather.

A huge thank you to everyone who participated.

Stay tuned for the wrap up report…

Agricultural endeavors are aiming to put Easton on the map

Sal Gilbertie is owner of Gilbertie Herb Farm, an Easton greenhouse that produces both herbs and nutritional greens. Gilbertie’s operation has shifted its focus repeatedly during the more than half a century he has been a grower. — Robert Sample photo
Sal Gilbertie is owner of Gilbertie Herb Farm, an Easton greenhouse that produces both herbs and nutritional greens. Gilbertie’s operation has shifted its focus repeatedly during the more than half a century he has been a grower. — Robert Sample photo

With 50 mostly small- and family-run farms within its town limits, few Connecticut towns have preserved farmland as assiduously as Easton. And without sacrificing its status as an out-of-the-way oasis amid the sprawl of suburbia, Easton now wants to put itself on the map.

Of note, the town is now actively seeking a designation as Connecticut’s Christmas Tree Capital, with attendant signage on the Merritt Parkway. Recently, Citizens for Easton — a nonprofit group that works to preserve the town’s small town characteristics — invited residents, gardening enthusiasts, budding growers and other interested observers to an event called Meet Easton’s Farmers.

The well-attended meeting provided an overview of agriculture in Easton, the challenges faced by small farmers today and the town’s potential as an agri-tourism hub.

The town’s preservation measures helped retain large tracts of open space and largely rural ambiance. Silverman’s Farm evolved from a cider mill and truck farm founded in the early 1920s into a popular destination for day-trippers from throughout the tri-state region.

“In the 1980s a lot of farms — including us — became pick-your-own places,” said Irv Silverman, the youngest son of founders Ben and Rose Silverman,who now runs the family farm.“Little kids who visit have never seen fruit growing on a tree, so visits to farms like ours are educational for today’s youngsters.”

At the much newer Shaggy Coos Farm nearby, Tim and Bernadette Brady raise beef cattle, pigs, and turkeys, and board horses. Two years ago, the couple purchased two Holstein dairy cows and began producing natural milk.

“Natural milk tastes nothing like what you buy in a supermarket,” Brady noted. To demonstrate, he brought a container to give out samples of the farm’s chocolate milk. The Bradys spent days taste-testing and fine tuning the perfect combination of milk and cocoa.

The biggest hurdle the Bradys face is the lack of a USDA-certified slaughterhouse in Connecticut. This means producers such as the Bradys must bring livestock for slaughter to New York or Massachusetts.


Sal Gilbertie, owner of Gilbertie Herb Garden in Easton, urged those interested in agriculture to choose a product “niche.” His is a third-generation greenhouse that began as a producer of cut flowers, later diversified into potted plants and arrived at its current specialty — herbs — at a time when that market was in its infancy.

“We were the only game in town when it came to herbs,” said Gilbertie. More recently, Gilbertie has diversified yet again. This time, he is specializing in micro- , petite-, and baby-greens, capitalizing on their newfound popularity and reputation for packing a nutritional punch.

“The smaller the green, the more nutritious and flavorful it is,” said Gilbertie.

Howland Blackiston raises a rather unusual crop: bees. He has been a lifelong bee enthusiast but pursued beekeeping only after moving to Easton in the 1970s. He’s the author of both “Beekeeping for Dummies” and “Building Hives for Dummies,” and created a website in 1998 devoted to backyard beekeeping.

Bees play a vital role in the pollination of food crops and have suffered of late from a well-publicized syndrome known as colony collapse disorder (CCD). “We don’t know for sure what causes CCD but some very smart people are working on it,” Blackiston noted.

Possible culprits include viruses, parasites, mites and certain pesticides. “I urge everyone to take a very good look at what you put on your plants,” Blackiston said. In particular, he urged gardeners to eschew a type of widely available pesticide known as neonicotinoids. They are toxic to bees and are banned in some European countries.

The gathering also heard from Lori Cochran-Dougall, a board member of the Fairfield County Farm Bureau. Cochran-Dougall began a program that teaches women in veterans’ rehabilitation how to cook with the assistance of award-winning farm-to-table chefs. She pointed out that cooking skills help people to be both more self-sufficient and to eat healthier diets.

Some practical advice came from Carol Hamilton, a retired teacher who is a state-certified master gardener and member of the Easton Garden Club. In recent months, the club and Hamilton’s fellow master gardeners have fielded plenty of questions about the effects of winter and spring storms on plants and trees.

“Whenever you have a question, talk to a master gardener – it’s a free resource,” Hamilton noted. “Or better yet, take the course.”