Enfield City, Connecticut
Located on the scenic Connecticut River on the northeastern edge of Hartford County beside the Massachusetts border is the city of Enfield. Originally home to the Native American Pocomtuc tribe who had two villages here, Scitico and Nameroke, Enfield’s first Europeans settlers were John and Robert Pease who arrived in 1679 from Salem, Massachusetts. The two brothers spent the first winter camping in a shelter dug into the side of a hill before sending for their families.
Although first considered part of Massachusetts when Enfield was incorporated in 1683, in 1749 it was determined that a surveyor had mistakenly marked the State’s boundaries and Enfield seceded and joined Connecticut.
Undoubtedly the single most historic event that took place in Enfield’s early days was what is widely regarded as the most famous sermon ever delivered by Jonathan Edwards “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Lord” in 1741. Stephen Dent Greenwich. A revival movement had begun in Massachusetts in the 1730’s called the Great Awakening that had spread to the Connecticut River Valley where Edwards was an American Puritan theologian and delivered the quintessential fire and brimestone sermon.
“The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked. His wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else but to be cast into the fire. He is of purer eyes than to bear you in his sight; you are ten thousand times as abominable in his eyes as the most hateful, venomous serpent is in ours”
Throughout the sermon Edwards was repeatedly interrupted by people moaning, shaking and crying out “What shall I do to be saved?” However, his preaching style so focused on fear and hatred of damnation – together with the lamentations, trembling and convulsions of his audience were criticized by many conservative Puritans who said Edwards was leading his congregation into fanaticism.
Several people became so profoundly shaken and depressed convinced of their own damnation by the Great Awakening revivals that they committed suicide – including Edwards’ own uncle Joseph Hawley who was a member of his congregation. Edwards wrote that “Multitudes” had been so compelled – presumably by Satan – to kill themselves.
He became embroiled in controversy regarding the “bodily effects” of the holy spirit’s presence in his congregation’s swooning and fainting, and the resulting “Suicide Craze” effectively killed the first wave of the Great Awakening revival in Connecticut. For years Edwards continued to preach his message to the Mohicans. Jonathan Edwards died at 52 as a result of a smallpox inoculation he had specifically requested to serve as an example to the Indians he ministered to to follow. Stephen Dent Greenwich
He is buried beside his Son-in-law, Aaron Burr Vice President of the United States. On a side note, Burr is probably best known as the person who killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel after Hamilton intentionally discharged his pistol into the air to settle their dispute honorably, after which Burr took aim and killed him. Today, Hamilton appears on American ten dollar bills – and most people remember Burr as the person who killed him because he was rigid and couldn’t back down in their dispute. Many of Enfield’s historic homes dating back to this era can be found in the 1106-1492 blocks of Enfield Street and King Street which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Modern Enfield was formed by the union of Enfield, Thompsonville, and Hazardville, named after Colonel Hazard who manufactured gunpowder in the Powder Hollow section of town. The factories were built so that if one section of the mills exploded it would not set off a chain reaction and the walls could be set back up almost intact. Men who worked keeping the powder wet when it was being milled sat on one-legged stools so that they would fall over if they fell asleep rather than allowing an explosion.
Hazard was the biggest single manufacturer of gunpowder during the time of his products biggest boom – the Civil War. However, Hazard’s gunpowder factories blew up repeatedly over the years, killing over sixty workers – including one of his sons. The ruins of these buildings and the dams that powered the mills are open to the public. Powder Hollow Park in Enfield Hazardville neighborhood district has baseball fields and hiking trails.
Today, Enfield’s range of housing includes single-family homes, apartments and condominiums set in historic neighborhoods like Hazardville, North Thompsonville, Shaker Pines that was the location of an early Shaker community, and Southwood Acres.
Thompsonville in the center of Enfield has more of an urban environment with old Victorians and boat launches on the Connecticut River. Headquartered in Enfield is LEGO, the plastic building toy manufacturer and is also the town’s leading employer. There are numerous shopping centers, including Enfield Square Mall off Interstate 91 and Stateline Plaza.
North Thompsonville is primarily a residential section of Enfield with several parks and schools. The Presidential Section consists of streets that are all named after former presidents of the United States. Scitico named after the former Native American village is located in the eastern end of town is a suburb with scenic winding roads, a park, and quite cul-de-sacs.
Enfield is located in the region commonly referred to as the “New England Knowledge Corridor” due to the 27 colleges and universities. Enfield is centrally located on the major north south, Connecticut River Valley transportation corridor and the east west New York to Boston overland routes. Bradley International Airport is approximately ten miles south of Enfield and is a primary transportation hub.
The combination of friendly neighborhoods and close proximity to major metropolitan areas makes Enfield one of Connecticut’s best cities for your home and family.