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Mysterious Mr. Edwin C. Litchfield

Updated on August 27, 2010
Ethan Allen birthplace in Litchfield, Connecticut
Ethan Allen birthplace in Litchfield, Connecticut
Ariston Cafe in Litchfield, Illinois
Ariston Cafe in Litchfield, Illinois
Litchfield National Park, NT, Australia
Litchfield National Park, NT, Australia

The Litchfield Clan

While trying to find more information on Edwin C. Litchfield, who held so much historic land in Brooklyn, NY proved a mystery. The story evolved into the influence of the Litchfield family in the railway, politics, and land acquisition in America.  The confusion arrives in the birthplace of the three brothers. The history of The Village of Litchfield, county seat of Meeker County, Minnesota recorded the town was named in honor of three brothers from London, England, Electus Darwin Litchfield (1817-1888), Egbert E. Litchfield and Edwin Clark Litchfield (1815-1885).  Litchfield was unknown until 1869, when the St. Paul and Pacific Railway (Great Northern) created its right-of-way through Meeker County.  Litchfield is among the largest of a series of "whistle stop" towns built along a railway extending west from Minneapolis in the nineteenth century. The three were contractors and heavy stockholders in the railway company. The founding of the county seat at Litchfield resulted in a swift invasion of a significant class of business and professional men. The business buildings and homes located in Forest City were placed on skids and towed to Litchfield.  A small amount of of these buildings remains to serve as historical landmarks of this eventful period.

The founding of Litchfield, Illinois was a business deal during the building of the railroad. The history of Litchfield states that the railroad through the city was mainly due to three native New Yorkers who were dynamic in railroad expansion throughout the eastern half of the United States, Elisha Cleveland Litchfield, Edwin Clark Litchfield, Electus Bachus Litchfield.  According to the history of this Litchfield town - Elisha Litchfield and Percy Tiffiny had five sons: Elisha Cleveland, on 11 October 1810, Electus Backus, born 15 February 1813, Edwin Clark born 21 January 1815, Erastus Darwin, 27 December 1818, and Egbert Deles, who died in infancy. Elisha C., Electus B., and Edwin C., formed one of the prime grouping of the nineteenth century railroad boom. Edwin C., trained in law, was a member of a New York legal firm with an interest in railroad legislation. Elisha C. and Electus B. had a wholesale grocery business in Cazenovia, New York, before joining Edwin C. They first jump into the railroad business came in 1846. Edwin C Litchfield was part of a consortium that bought the Michigan Sothern Railroad and integrated it with the Northern Indiana. It completed made a through route from Lake Erie to Chicago.

A Edwin C. Litchfield was involved in a lawsuit in the district court of the United States for the district of Wisconsin, October 5, 1858 regarding a railroad deal with La Crosse & Milwaukee Railroad Company. Also a Edwin C. Litchfield seemed to have loss a lawsuit 64 U.S. 66 - The Dubuque and Pacific Railroad Company v. Edwin C Litchfield in 1859.

Both Edwin C. Litchfield, who was influential in spreading the railroad in Illinois and Connecticut, have the same birthday, but are credited with different birthplaces.

The name Litchfield is found in Litchfield Park a city in Maricopa County, Arizona.  The community was begun in 1916 when Akron, Ohio-based Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company purchased 14,000 acres 16 miles west of the city of Phoenix. The project was developed by Paul Litchfield, then a junior executive with Goodyear Tire. Paul Weeks Litchfield retired after 58 year career with Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company as executive.

Then there is the Litchfield Plantation, which was 3,900 acres coastal rice plantation located on Pawleys Island, SC.  The earliest known date of existence is 1710 from a land grant from King George II through his Lords Proprietors to Thomas Hepworth. The house was built in 1740. No idea why it’s named Litchfield.

Litchfield County was created on October 9, 1751, by an act of the Connecticut General Court from land belonging to Fairfield, New Haven, and Hartford counties. The Litchfield lived in Connecticut and New York States.

Park Named After a Surveyor Litchfield

Edwin Clark Litchfield
Edwin Clark Litchfield
Grace Hill
Grace Hill
architectural details of one house in Park Slope
architectural details of one house in Park Slope
Gowanus Canal
Gowanus Canal
Litchfield's property - Old Stone House
Litchfield's property - Old Stone House

Litchfield of Brooklyn

The Edwin C. Litchfield of Brooklyn, NY built up the vacant Park Slope area and expanded the Gowanus Canal for shipping. He was a lawyer, a railroad owner and did land acquisition. Founder and president of the Brooklyn Improvement Company, Litchfield developed the Red Hook waterfront, the New York and Long Island Coignet Stone Company, a 5-acre factory complex that once stood alongside the Gowanus Canal in 1873. He owned much of the land between the Canal and what is now Prospect Park. Edwin Clark Litchfield was born in New York in 1815 and died in Aix Les Bans, France in 1885. Same dates as the Edwin from Minnesota and Illinois. He’s buried in Green-Wood Cemetery, near his villa.

Park Slope got its name because the land slopes gradually away to the west of Prospect Park's high ground where he built his mansion Litchfield Villa. Park Slope is a rectangle approximately 5 blocks by 30 blocks. It’s bounded by Flatbush Avenue, Fourth Avenue, the Prospect Expressway and Prospect Park West.


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