All About: Berlin

Population: 18,215

County: Hartford

Size: 27 square miles

History: We’re really starting to question the wisdom of including town histories in this series. You know how the story goes: At one point Berlin belonged to the Indians, then it didn’t. Berlin is home to the geographical center of Connecticut, and was once known by some unpronounceable Mattabasset word that means “the great white oak place.” In 1659 Sgt. Richard Beckley moved in with his family, other WASPs followed, and at some point they formed an ecclesiastical and renamed the area — quite beautifully — the Great Swamp Society. After that is got split into Kensington and Wrothington and a whole bunch of other nonsense.

The people of Berlin seem to be most proud of this “Yankee Peddler” business which was started by the Pattisons — they were Irish and therefore there were a lot of them — in the mid-eighteenth century. “They set up the first tinware business in the colonies. Wares in baskets were pedaled from house to house, then as surplus accumulated, by mule and wagon, traveling all over America and to Canada. This was the birth of ‘The Yankee Peddler’.”

Something Weird: Berlin was also home to one of the first 75 official post offices designated by Benjamin Franklin.

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