Along the Stepney Heritage Trail
A Lesson in History
Stepney and the Stratford Connection
The history of modern-day Stepney (including areas earlier known as Birdsey’s Plain, Upper Stepney and Lower Stepney) as does the Town of Monroe itself begins in the “mother town” of Stratford founded in 1639. Monroe was originally the northern part of the town of Stratford. The modern-day Monroe area become part of the town of Stratford on May 17, 1671, when Stratford leaders purchased the hereditary claims to the area from the Paugusset Indians in the White Hills Purchase.
Settlement of today’s Monroe didn’t begin until the early 1700s, when the sons and grandsons of Stratford’s founding fathers moved north in search of new land. By 1717 there were enough permanent residents in the northeastern part of Stratford to justify establishing a separate ecclesiastical society, called Ripton. In 1744 the Connecticut General Assembly organized the northwestern part of Stratford into the North Stratford ecclesiastical society.
In 1762 the boundaries of what would become the town of Monroe were finally established. That year inhabitants of the northern sections of the Ripton and North Stratford ecclesiastical societies successfully petitioned the Connecticut General Court to establish them as a new, separate religious society, called New Stratford.
But another six decades would pass before New Stratford attained the status of a fully independent town rather than a religious society. In 1789 the New Stratford and Ripton societies were taken from Stratford to create the new town of Huntington (renamed Shelton in 1919). In 1823 the New Stratford Society was incorporated as the town of Monroe, named for James Monroe, then president of the United States.