Roseville Road’s Civil War Connection

This fall, the Westport Historical Society awarded its 300th historic house plaque.

They’re available (for a $300 donation) for any house at least 100 years old; any house within a local historic district (regardless of age), and houses less than a century old if either a special event occurred there, a prominent person lived in it, or it was designed by a noted architect.

The most recent addition — 88 Roseville Road — spotlights a bit of often-overlooked Westport history: the Civil War.

Benjamin Brotherton

A photo misidentified as Benjamin Brotherton. It is actually Peter Oscar Lewis, a relative who was a highway superintendent for the town.

According to historian David Press, the home’s 2nd owner, Benjamin Brotherton, was wounded in that conflict.

In July 1862 — with the war going poorly for the north — President Lincoln called for 600,000 troops. Each state and town had numbers to fill. Henry Penfield Burr of Westport was in charge of our quota. A bounty for soldiers to join was set at $480 per year.

The next month Brotherton joined 50 other enlistees in the 250-man 17th Brigade, Company E.

He was wounded in Virginia by Stonewall Jackson’s forces, and also fought in Gettysburg.

Brotherton returned to Westport. In 1866, at age 47, he married 22-year-old Phebe Batterson. Brotherton’s father-in-law, William Batterson, had built the house around 1860, on 15 acres of land. He gave a half-acre to Brotherton as a wedding gift.

Why such little acreage? Bob Weingarten — the WHS house historian, who compiled much of this information — believes it’s because Batterson was an oysterman. He had little need for farmland.

88 Roseville Road, in an 1895 photo.

88 Roseville Road, in an 1895 photo.

The current owner is Karen Brewer. She’s lived in New York and the UK (in a converted 17th century vicarage), but with friends and family in Westport — and an admiration for the town, its architecture and history — she’s long wanted to live here.

When the company she worked for moved to Stamford, she found a house with “a sense of time and place inherent in things that are not brand new.”

It was a challenge. The house had been renovated by a builder, and maintained none of the original details. Brewer spent the last 2 years developing a plan. So far, she’s focused on the mechanicals and interior cosmetic changes. This spring, she hopes to restore the original exterior wood siding.

88 Roseville Road today. (Photo/Bob Weingarten)

88 Roseville Road today. (Photo/Bob Weingarten)

Brewer is a banker — not a farmer, oysterman or soldier. But she cherishes the heritage of her home. And she’s doing her best to preserve it

Now she’s got a historic plaque to honor it too.

Westport Historical Society house historian Bob Weingarten, current owner Karen Brewer, and the historic house plaque. (Photo/Laurence Untermeyer)

Westport Historical Society house historian Bob Weingarten, current owner Karen Brewer, and the historic house plaque. (Photo/Laurence Untermeyer)

18 responses to “Roseville Road’s Civil War Connection

  1. Just so you know, about 10 years ago we buried our power lines. We were told the meter had to be on the outside of the house. Well my wife argued up the chain of command and got the meter in the basement. A much better look for old houses.

  2. Jeff Launiere

    A big thank you too Dan Woog for bringing great stories of Westport’s past. For me, there are many stories that involve family members, as this article does, and they sure help with my work on my family tree. Also thank you to Karen Brewer for restoring this beautiful piece of history.

  3. John F. (J-period) Wandres

    From 1946 to 1950, when I was age 11 to age 14, my family lived in Weston, in a farmhouse about 100 yards north of the intersection of Lyons Plains Road and Fanton Hill Road. The current street address is, I believe, 188 Lyons Plains Road. My parents rented the house from John Fanton (whose family went back to the Rev. War period.) Mr. Fanton asserted that at one point the house was owned by one of the cousins of Aaron Burr. The rather extended Burr family came from Fairfield County. I’ve contacted the Burr family genealogical site for any additional information. Stay tuned. As soon as the Pony Express arrives in Portland, I’ll post again.

    J. Wandres
    Staples, 1953

  4. I lived at 112 Roseville in the 60’s and early 70’s. I think the house that the Brewer’s now own might have been owned and occupied by the Ferris family during that period (and probably much longer).

  5. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this dedicated lady helped push a turn around not to keep tearing down lovely old real estate just to build a cookie cutter
    LARGE house to the very edge of a parcel .

    • Here! Here, Athena!!!

      We have the opportunity to build, have and maintain all the new construction we need without exhausting our ever-decreasing treasury of antique homes.

      Our family came from California ONLY because of our c1730 home, Banks Tavern. A similar gem brought Karen Brewer all the way from England. You can’t unring the bell of an old home once it succumbs to a wreaking ball.

  6. Another important feature is that the house is one of only 12 privately owned Local Historic Landmark Properties in Westport which means that it will be protected in the future as all exterior alterations visible from the street must be approved by the Historic District Commission.
    Congratulations Karen !

    Edward F. Gerber
    Vice Chairman , HDC

  7. Benjamin Brotherton (my grandmother’s grandfather) was indeed wounded at Chancellorsville but he did not fight at Gettysburg – he was in a hospital recovering from his wound. This house was owned by our family until the 1970s (the Ferris family lived in the house behind it). I spent a lot of time there when my great-grandparents and great-uncle (George and Martha Lewis and their son, George) lived there.

    I gave copies of those photos to the HDC some years ago (my great grandmother is the small child in the 1895 image) but the other photo is actually Peter Oscar Lewis (my g-g grandfather and a former highway superintendent for the Town). It is easy to misidentify old family photos, especially when those who could actually identify the subjects were inclined to “let the dead lie”, as I was frequently told my my grandmother anytime I asked questions about family history. In any event, it’s not Benjamin Brotherton (who my son is named after).

    These are the sort of families that don’t get much notice in the history of the town…so it is nice to see some of these homes fixed up and their original owners recognized.

    • Thanks, Dale — I have changed the caption and wording in the story above. Much appreciated!

    • Jacques Voris

      Dale,

      I didn’t know we were related….

      • Jacques,

        Yep, we are. The running joke (except that it really is true) among most of us is that if your family goes back far enough in Westport you are related to, well, nearly everyone else with family going back that far!

        • jacquesvoris

          Hey! That was my joke! I guess I should have said “I didn’t know how we were related “

  8. jacquesvoris

    You had to know I was going to weigh in on this one….

    Benjamin Brotherton was the son of Eli Brotherton and Esther/Hester Batterson. Esther was the sister of William Batterson, the father of Phebe Batterson who married Benjamin Brotherton. So Benjamin and Phebe were first cousins. But there is more. Eli Brotherton was the son of Daniel Brotherton and Rachel Batterson. Rachel Batterson was the sister of John Batterson. John Batterson was the father of William Batterson, the father of Phebe Batterson. And more….
    Phebe’s brother, Francis A Batterson married Benjamin’s sister Jerusha Batterson.
    Phebe’s sister Louisa Batterson married Morris Edward Mills.
    Phebe’s other sister Abbie Jane Batterson married Lewis Burr Mills, the brother of Morris Edward Mills

    Morris and Lewis’ father was David Mills, who lived on Center Street near his brother Samuel Mills, who’s home was the subject of a recent article on this blog.
    David and Samuel’s sister Salome Mills was married to Joseph Batterson, the brother of William Batterson.

    I won’t even go into all the rest of the Batterson/Mills/Allen connections.

  9. Back in, I think, the 80’s, the HDC did a mailing to the owners of many historic houses in Westport asking them if they might be interested in designating their properties as Local Historic Landmarks. About two decades pass before a very sweet lady named Sue Spencer writes back. She says she lives at 88 Roseville, she got letter and she’s ready to go for it. True story.

  10. Thank you all for your kind comments … and thank you Dan for the great article. Lots of inspiration to continue the project!