Derby History Quiz
The Burtville Union Chapel
Ask for directions to "Burtville" today and some people might be able to tell you where it is, but few would be able to tell you why it is called Burtville. The area off Route 34 in East Derby is named after the man who once owned the land - David Burt. Considered a bit eccentric for his time, he was the brother in law of the rector of St. James Church in the Birmingham area of the city. According to accounts of the time, Burt was quite a spectacle as he would ride his pony "Pomp" through the streets of Birmingham in outdated clothing, large rimmed glasses and a white beaver throw.
In any case, Burt's very rural land gradually developed during his lifetime as new houses were built and the new settlers nicknamed him "Daddy" Burt. Evidently his view of urbanity was quite different than today's standard as he was heard to remark that, ".... I clar to goodness, I never thought that I'd live to die the the smoke of a city." However as his little village continued to grow by 1877 there were 23 buildings in "Burtville" and a Sunday school was organized. The classes were originally held in a nearby home, but in 1879 the Burts adopted daughter, Mrs. Martha Tickner, donated land for a building and by July 7, 1879 the Burtville Union Chapel was open. The "Union" label evidently came from the fact that it served, Baptists, Methodists, Congregationalists and Episcopalians.
The advent of the trolley brought an end to the Chapel as a religious institution as the Derby-New Haven Trolley brought rights of way through the property in 1902. James McDermott bought the building and moved it to property near St. Peter's Cemetery. He converted it into a tenement while the funds derived from the sale were shared by area churches.
The house was destroyed by a fire in 1920. Its memory lingers on in the form of Chapel Street which is a city street to this day!
Correct answers were received from: Randy Ritter, Jack O'Callaghan, Frank from St. Pete, John M. Rak, Ann Searles, Joan Driscoll, Rick Dunne, C. F. Douglass and Millie from Ansonia.
To see our other earlier quizzes and learn more about Derby's unique history, click here.