“The British Are Coming… For Our Pork!”
Pork Hollow, Ansonia
Everyone knows the story of Paul Revere. Sure, his legendary ride was early in the War for Independence, as he rode at midnight to warn the locals and the militia that “The British are Coming” to Lexington and Concord. The midnight ride was dramatized and popularized in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1861 poem “Paul Revere’s Ride.”
Good for Paul Revere.
You may even know about Connecticut’s “Girl Paul Revere,” Sybil Ludington who, it is said, did the same exact thing Revere did for Danbury. She has a statue and everything.
But what of Captain John Tomlinson of (what was) Derby? Hmmm? Where’s his statue?
He doesn’t have one. And that’s a shame.
What Captain Tomlinson has is… a granite marker erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution at the intersection of Wakelee Avenue and Pork Hollow Street in (what is now) Ansonia. The marker stands proudly in front of a little convenience store that seems to change ownership every couple of years.
Okay, so what’s up with this place? A Pork Hollow monument and the short residential Pork Hollow Street in an area apparently called the Pork Hollow Neighborhood… why?
Like I said, it’s a Paul Revere story. During the Revolutionary War, British soldiers under the command of General Tryon roamed through the western part of Connecticut spreading terror among the populace with his contingent of 2,000 soldiers. At the time, the port of Derby was thriving thanks to its trade with the West Indies and Tryon learned of large stores of supplies including a great deal of pork in the area that would today be downtown Derby.
When Tryon dispatched troops to New Haven, Capt. John Tomlinson feared that the troop’s real target was to be Derby and its stock pile. According to a story recounted in Orcutt’s History of the Old Town of Derby, Tomlinson rode like the wind to Derby to announce, “The British are in New Haven; look out for your pork, look out for your pork!” The enterprising citizens of Derby quickly responded by removing the stores – which I can only assume included a lot of pork – to an area of Derby that is now in Ansonia. That area, which was entirely wooded countryside back then, became known as Pork Hollow.
The monument was dedicated in 1901 to commemorate the 1777 incident which is kind of interesting in and of itself. That is, there’s been a large granite PORK HOLLOW block sitting here since 1901.
And there you have it. The entire story. I’ve nothing more to say other than…