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Showing posts from 2021
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  The Jeremiah Bennett Clan: T he Days of the Desperados One morning in 1876, a Ridgefield man was sitting in a dining room of a Philadelphia hotel and was served a cup of coffee. As the man picked up a silver spoon to stir some sugar into his coffee, he did a double take. The spoon bore the man’s own name. He sought out the hotel manager who explained that he had just recently purchased a group of similar spoons from a Philadelphia man. That evening the Ridgefielder received a letter from home, saying that his house had been recently burglarized and that suspects in the case had been caught. Found in the possession of the thieves was a letter from their brother in Philadelphia, reporting “Goods received all right and disposed of.” The Ridgefield visitor was just one of dozens of victims of   “the notorious Bennett family,” a Ridgefield clan that became the center of a sensational 19th Century crime spree that made hundreds of headlines in newspapers throughout the Northeast.     Despi
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  Larry Hoyt: A Centenarian Who Loved Horses and the Harmonica   Larry Hoyt was a rare Ridgefield centenarian who spent nearly all of his 100 years in his hometown, and was well-known locally for his love of horses and the harmonica.   Lawrence Chestly Hoyt was born in 1902 in his grandfather’s house on Wilton Road West, a member of a family that dated back to the settlement of the town in 1708. His earliest education was in one-room schoolhouses. One of five brothers, he quit after one year at Hamilton High School to go to work to help support his family. When he was 17,   Hoyt falsified his age so he could enlist in the U.S. Army, with the aim of serving in the cavalry. Raised among farmers, “I had always loved animals, especially horses,” he said in an interview when he had just turned 100. He was sent to Vermont to train   horses for military combat and drills, and then to Texas, serving with Troop A of the Third Cavalry. He was one of the last of the “Brave Rifles” — a name coined
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  Nancy-Carroll Draper: She Created A Museum Nancy-Carroll Draper stood out, not just in her hardy, six-foot stance but especially in her wide-ranging accomplishments.  An heiress and a granddaughter of a Massachusetts governor,  Draper was an author, legislator, dog breeder and judge, a wildlife advocate, conservationist, cattle rancher, photographer, and philanthropist who founded the acclaimed Draper Museum of Natural History near Yellowstone National Park.  Although she was a member of a prominent Boston family and lived in Ridgefield from 1947 until 1988, she  had maintained  a cattle ranch for many years outside Cody, Wyo., a region that turned out to be her first love.  Nancy-Carroll Draper was born in Boston, Mass., on Aug. 28, 1922, daughter of Eben Sumner and Ruth Carroll Draper. Her father owned a textile mill and her grandfather, Eben Sumner Draper Sr., was governor of Massachusetts from 1909 to 1911. She attended private schools in New York City and Virginia, and studied a
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  Liebovitz & Knapp Families:  Much Talent and Generosity A remarkable but locally little known family who lived on Bennett’s Farm Road for more than a half century gave Ridgefield a large and important part of their estate as parkland.  For 30 years, David  Liebovitz, a writer whose father rose from a poor immigrant to a millionaire industrialist, and his wife, a concert violinist whose friends included Jascha Heifetz,  maintained a 45-acre farm, more than half of which their grandchildren donated to the town in 2013. The story begins in 1852 when Simon Liebovitz was born in Russia. As a young man he emigrated to America,  arriving  in 1874 penniless and jobless. Within two years he had met and married Fannie Unterberg, another recent Russian immigrant, and they began producing a family that wound up totalling six boys. But Simon and Fannie also worked together to  establish  one of New York’s first silk factories at 60 Canal Street in Manhattan. A half century later, S. Liebovitz
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       Walt Ryba: Good Sport & Good Business Fellow students at Ridgefield High School knew that Walt Ryba would be a future leader. After all, the recently arrived Ridgefielder  had, by his graduation in 1959, been president of his sophomore, junior and senior classes, and co-captain of the football, baseball and basketball teams. In fact, the Class Will gave “Walt Ryba’s many abilities and class leadership to future senior class presidents.” It also gave his “oinky Studebaker to anyone who doesn’t like fast cars.” His abilities and class leadership — not car choices — led to a lot more, and 40 years later, Dr. Walter George Ryba Jr., was dean of the School of Business at Fairfield University, where he was also professor of business law.  Dr. Ryba (pronounced Ree-ba ) was born in Stamford in 1941. His family moved to Craigmoor Road when he was a freshman. Learning that he had been active in youth sports in Stamford, RHS Principal Kip Holleran quickly signed up Ryba  for the baseba