Derby History Quiz

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Derby's Other Borough


Down through the years, Derby evolved from one of the larger cities in the state into the smallest by land area. Oxford (1798) and Seymour (1850) broke off first. Derby was still a growing as Sheldon Smith and Anson Phelps started to build a thriving industrial community in the area that currently encompasses downtown Derby. That area was known for a short time as Smithville, but came to be called Birmingham.

Phelps decided to expand the industrial area of Birmingham northward, but was thwarted when he was unable to purchase a critical parcel of land. Just as speculation often drives prices today, that was also the case in the 1800's.Phelps had purchased most of the land that he needed except for a parcel known as "the old Bassett farm." That parcel had been purchased by a man named squire Booth for the high price of $5,000. It appears that Booth intended to sell the land for a handsome profit. After some serious negotiating, Phelps was  willing to pay $15,000, but Booth raised the price to $25,000. According to historian Samuel Orcutt, Phelps' agent promptly told Booth that he could, "go to hell."

Instead, Phelps purchase land farther north on the east side of the Naugatuck River, and began to build an industrial center. That area which encompassed the current downtown area came to be known as Ansonia - a Latinized version of Phelps first name.

In 1851, Birmingham was chartered as a borough, and Gould Armory served as its headquarters. In 1864, "Ansonia" officially became Derby's other borough.

In 1888, the citizens of the Borough of Ansonia petitioned the state to allow the Borough of Ansonia and the land on the west side of the Naugatuck River known as west Ansonia to be incorporated as the City of Ansonia. The legislature acted favorably, and the City of Ansonia came into existence in 1889. Interestingly, a large part of the border consists of "Division" Street.

Click here of a full account of the split that resulted in the City of Ansonia.

This quiz proved to be especially difficult and generated more incorrect answers than any quiz that we have ever had. However, we did received correct answers from the following people: Ann Searles, Fred Grant, Robert Loftus, Markanthony Izzo, Eileen Krugel, and Mille from Ansonia.

To see our other earlier quizzes and learn more about Derby's unique history, click here.