Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu and First Selectman Ted Shafer announced this week that the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, at its February 13, 2020 meeting, approved the proposal to change the name of Negro Hill Brook in Hartford County to Freeman Hill Brook.
“We both received thoughtful comments from concerned citizens,” stated First Selectman Shafer. “This was a great joint effort to be pro-active, affect an appropriate name change, and reflect the values of our communities. We honor Amos & Jenny Freeman of Burlington, one of the few African-American families who owned land in the late 18th century.
‘With the receipt of the State Open Space Grant to acquire and preserve acres in Bristol and Burlington, this was perfect timing to enact a change like this,” stated Mayor Zoppo-Sassu. “We also appreciate the efforts of those in the community who recommended that the name still reflect the activities and stories of the people who lived there.”
Originally, the thought was to rename the Brook as the Pigeon Hill Brook, connecting it to the nearby Pigeon Hill which is within the acreage being acquired by the City and the Environmental Learning Centers of Connecticut. “Around the time this was being contemplated and appeared in a news article, a local historian, Tom Rubino, made me aware of the Freeman story,” said Shafer. “We all agreed that it was an important piece of history and should be preserved for future generations.”
The change has been entered into the Geographic Names Information System, the nation’s official geographic names repository, which is available and searchable online at https://usgs.gov/geonames/domestic-names.
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