RETURN

The Hannover District in Simsbury, Connecticut
and the early maps of Dr. Samuel Higley

On the origin of the name 'Hanover, Connecticut', Jay Robbins writes:

Firstly, the "real" Hanover Connecticut is nowhere near Simsbury and as far as I know has no connection to German miners, but then I never delved into that town too much. I'm going on memory here, but last time I checked, there were either 16 Hanovers (or is it 26?) in the US and perhaps some in Canada. There are many more Hanovers here than there are in Germany, where logically you couldn't have many as it would confuse everybody.

In regards to the Hanover district in Simsbury, technically speaking it is on or near "Grist Mill Lane". Down the end of Main street a ways near two ponds - with a road going over the ponds by a small bridge. You couldn't even really call it a neighborhood because there is not much there except the ponds, a grist mill (now a restaurant) and a couple of houses. I have photos of the pond if interested. I gather the 2 ponds now were likely one larger pond at some period of time - a not very tall, or wide, artificial dirst causeway was formed splitting the one pond into two.

Tradition has it that it was here that the German miners refined the copper, and perhaps 100 or more years ago copper slag could still be found here. (And wouldn't I love to find that site?) That I cannot do because very near there is a company called Ensign Bickford. Since the 1830's they made fuse for the miners here and sold it worldwide. This was waterproof fuse. In W.W.I they made grenades, shell heads, etc. and have had a number of tragic fatalities. Of course now they make more sophisticated things, and who knows what all, for the US Government.

To make a long story short, I had hardly spent 5 minutes at the pond before the Police showed up (using infra-red detectors maybe?). Would I care to go there again? Yes, but I don't want the interrogation which is sure to follow.

A rather interesting note about the origins of Hanover begs to be inserted here. At the time I was questioning Stephen Simon at the Simsbury Historical Society about this problem, he had a Professor with a Germanic-sounding name from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire ask Stephen whether he thought the college town of Hanover, N.H. had any connection with the three German miners there? This inquiry of the professor stunned me at the time. I had wanted to get into a dialogue with the professor as to why he thought that, but was too busy and didn't follow up.

You know that all this originates from Jacob Crommelin and Frederick Pigou. I personally do not feel comfortable in ascribing the Hanover district in Simsbury to the three German miners brought over. At best, I can only say it is a possibility. Some of the older written accounts (1845) are cautious and say "from Germany". In Germany, they call Hannover (the larger entity) a "Gau" or district and then of course you have the city of Hannover in it. In the "Gau" are the famous "Herz" mountains which we prefer to call Hartz. The Herz area was loaded with silver mines and I have a long description of one of those mines from the diary of Mass. Governor Jonathan Belcher who went into one. So if Charles Crommelin's miners were indeed Hannoverian, they would have come from the Herz.

The three miners themselves are impossible to trace. Take one, for example, by the name of "Andrew Craftine" or Crastine. He has the most unlikely sounding German name I ever heard of. Colonial phonectic spelling being what it is, doesn't help. I think that it is not unlikely that Andrew or his father might actually be Huguenot. In between the series of mines and shafts at "North Hill" and the main mine at the Newgate Prison site is the "Castine" mine from which I had assays taken. If you take out the long "S" or "f" in Crastine it comes close to "Castine." Nobody has ever figured out the name of that mine, to the best of my knowledge. One of the original Huguenot refugees who settled in "Manakintowne", Virginia is named Castien. No more luck tracing the other two miners. Then you have a "John Christian Miller" whose original name was "Muller". Tracing a Muller is about as difficult as tracing a John Smith or a John Brown.