Peace at Highland Lake. Photo by Jeannette Brodeur.
Peace at Highland Lake. Photo by Jeannette Brodeur.
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Hello, neighbors! Our family came to this charming little hamlet just last month, but I’m still confused about where we live. At first, our new address came up as Winchester, but that’s a town in the city of Winsted? Huh? Most locals have corrected me and say we live in Winsted. But how come all of the police cars say Winchester on them? I did find out that the name Winsted comes from the towns of “Winchester and Barkhamsted,” but I’m not the only one who finds this mishmash confusing.

In a 2008 Letter to the Editor in the Register Citizen, Joseph Cadrain, who passed away in 2009, complained about the rising local town budget and also explained that “the legal name of an area shown as Winchester and/or Winsted, Connecticut, on state and local maps is the Town of Winchester.” He added that ”local government is the Town Meeting and the Board of Selectmen. Taxes are paid to the Town of Winchester. Law enforcement is via the Winsted Police Department and we have a Volunteer Winsted Fire Department.”

Cadrain went on to say that Winsted/Winchester can have this arrangement because “our Town Charter says we can” but reminded folks that nowhere in the charter is there any mention of the City of Winsted, because “legally the City of Winsted does not exist.” Huh?

Finally, Cadrain added to the mystery of our newly adopted hometown by stating that, “somewhere in a previous time zone, parts of Barkhamsted, New Hartford and Colebrook must have been annexed to the Town of Winchester. No town records exist, yet the possibility exists that secret documents exist.” Ooooh. Secret documents! I may have to talk to the Town Clerk about this! I wish I got to speak to the late Mr. Cadrain about this mystery.

This crazy mixup of towns must be something our family is drawn to because we just moved here from a place called Terryville, which is a village in the town of Plymouth. Our kids attended Plymouth schools, most of which are located in Terryville. Our Plymouth Town Hall was also located in Terryville, but our police cars had the name “Plymouth Police” on them.
Terryville is also the home of Buddy the Beefalo, a 1,200-pound cross between a bison and beef cattle, who escaped from a trailer at a local slaughterhouse on August 3 and has eluded the Plymouth Police Department ever since. Residents and people from all over the world have contributed to the police department’s “GoFundMe” effort to purchase the wayward Buddy from his owner and let him live out the rest of his days in a Florida animal sanctuary. But they have to catch him first. Stay tuned!

Terryville and Winsted do have something other than confusing town names in common. They were both important places in the history of clockmaking, as was Waterbury, where my husband Todd and I grew up. But Terryville and Waterbury don’t have a history of Bigfoot sightings as Winsted does! Yes. It’s true!

According to damnedct.com, there’s a “Legend of the Winsted Wildman!” The website reveals that in 1895, the Winsted Herald reported “a large man, stark naked and covered with hair all over his body, ran out of a clump of bushes” and startled Town Selectman Riley Smith who was out in the woods picking berries with his bulldog. Smith described Bigfoot as “a wild, hairy man of the woods, six feet in height,” and added that “the man’s hair was black and hung down long on his shoulders, and that his body was thickly covered with black hair. The man was remarkably agile, and to all appearance was a muscular, brawny man, a man against whom any ordinary man would stand little chance.”

Wow, I better not go berry-picking alone in the woods or even with my aging 13-year-old little terrier mix dog, Nelson, although Nelson could give Bigfoot a good nip on his hairy ankles if he could catch him! Yes, I think I will just head over to the Winsted Farmers Market this spring. Can you tell me, is the address in Winsted or Winchester?

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Jeannette Brodeur has been a journalist for more than 30 years and wrote a human interest column for the New Jersey Herald, the Naugatuck Daily News and the Citizen’s News for many years. She and her husband Todd have three adult children: Harley, Aaron and Jillian, as well as an aging rescue dog named Nelson and two rescue cats named Reeses (like the candy) and Clarence (like the angel in “It’s a Wonderful Life”). They live on Highland Lake in Winchester/Winsted.