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Benjamin Stebbins

September 30, 1692 - September 6, 1780

Benjamin Stebbins was born in Deerfield, Franklin County, Massachusetts in 1692. When he was 9-years-old, his family was killed in the Deerfield Massacre. He was raised by cousins and learned the tanner trade. In 1714, he was offered a large piece of land at the north end of Main Street in exchange for setting up a much-needed tannery in Ridgefield. The land was heavily forested, with steep precipices and ledges. But Stebbins gladly agreed. He started out living in a bark hut while he gradually built one of the grandest homes in town. Completed in 1727, it stayed in the Stebbins family until 1892, when its new owners demolished it.

A tanner was a very important tradesman for a pioneer community. He converted animal hides into useable leather for shoes, clothes, bags, saddles, etc. The process is long and smelly but very profitable. By 1746, the tax list showed Benjamin Stebbins to be Ridgefield’s wealthiest citizen. He was elected town Selectman five times and also represented Ridgefield in the colonial legislature.

Benjamin Stebbins married Sarah Mead in 1718 and fathered nine children. The American Revolution divided the Stebbins family. Three of his sons chose to side with the patriots. Benjamin and his sons Benjamin, Jr. and Josiah remained loyal to The Crown. Josiah loyalty was so passionate that he was brought to trial by his patriot Ridgefield neighbors for his Tory activities. As a result, he had to post a 300 pound sterling bond and promise "quiet behavior". Later he joined the British army and was involved with the burning of Danbury. Afterward, he helped guide the British forces into Ridgefield and it was said managed to get some revenge on his old neighbors by pointing out their homes to be burned.

The famous barricade in the Battle of Ridgefield was built across the road in front of the Stebbins’ house. During the fighting, 85-year-old Benjamin tried to hide in the upstairs bedroom but bullets tore holes in the door. After the battle, Josiah’s alliance with the British saved the house from being burned. Instead, it served as a makeshift hospital, with Benjamin’s daughter, Anna, treating the wounded in the west room. For generations, tourists would come to see the bullet-scarred walls and bloodstained floors. Many of the British and American soldiers who died in the battle were buried on the property. A commemorative stone near the entrance to Casagmo Condominium notes the location.  Benjamin & Sarah Stebbins are buried in the Titicus Cemetery. 


The Stebbins House on Main Street, Ridgefield, CT

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