Being on the New England Coast, Mystic, Connecticut was settled in the mid 17th century when the European settlers lived alongside the local Indian tribes for many years to come. What was once a settlement has flourished into an expansive community on either side of the Mystic River, from which the area derived its name and an interesting face of Mystic History. “Missi-tuk” was the Pequot tribe’s word to describe a large river in which winds and tides create large waves, pointing to the importance of the river in their lifestyle, something that is still a big part of the community today. Even today, seafood plays a big part in the local cuisine, as demonstrated by all the seafood restaurants in Mystic CT.
Mystic History officially began when the small community was named in 1665, though the first settlers, the Burrows and the Denisons, arrived around 1654. This small coastal community proudly celebrated its 360th anniversary last year, with centuries of Mystic history to reflect upon. The first settlers cleared farmland, using the lumber as a cash crop to get started, and were located on either side of the river. Both hailed from England in search of fertile land to work and a new life. Another group of settlers arrived over time – the Williamses, the Gallups, the Masons, the Packers, and the Fishers. The area remained rural until after the war of 1812 struck the area. The Mystic Bridge was installed in 1819, which was crucial to the growth of the area with shipyards springing up along the river thoughout the 19th century.
Where to Learn About Mystic History
- The Mystic Historical Society – Devoted to preserving Mystic History since 1973, the Mystic Historical Society has multiple sites to visit and learn about the area’s past. The main building, as well as the schoolroom, the Downes Building, and Portersville Academy are all worth visiting as they are beautifully restored and full of great information.
- Mystic Seaport – The nation’s leading maritime museum, the Mystic Seaport is a great place to explore the history of the community’s relationship with the coast. Come explore the historic village and vessels at this living history museum.
- The Denison Homestead – Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Denison Homestead aims to preserve the land and lifestyles of the area’s first settlers through teaching the community about them. Most of the 160 acres of land have been preserved from their original state in the 1600s, and each room in the homestead house, now a museum, represents a different period of Mystic history.
- Fort Trumbull State Park – Stop by the visitors center for a history lesson of the fort’s history dating back to 1853. While there be sure to take a walk on the beautiful boardwalk, or bring your gear and head out on the fishing pier.
Varied and very nearly ancient, Mystic history is worth digging into when you visit the area, whether you’re a buff or not. There are so many facets to the area’s history that you’ll surely find some aspect of Mystic history to enjoy, even if it’s just walking through Olde Mystic Village to appreciate the restored buildings.
For other ideas of things to do in the area, check out this free vacation guide!