Founding family descendant to leave Upson homestead in Southington
SOUTHINGTON — A tenth-generation Upson descendant, Elizabeth Upson Stanley will be the last of the founding family to live at its Marion Avenue homestead.
Stanley, 84, is moving with her son to Florida later this month. It was a difficult decision, but necessary move, she said.
She’s also encouraged that much of the family land is now protected open space.
“It’s killing met to leave this place,” Stanley said. “It was just a matter of the right thing for me to do and the right time to do it.”
Thomas Upson came to Southington from Waterbury in 1732 and established a tin shop on the Marion Avenue homestead. That section of Southington was named by the Upsons, many of whom went to work in Marion, Alabama.
“We’ve been on the property since then,” Stanley said. “It’s been a continuous line.”
The family had about 300 acres at one time, Stanley said. Sold or donated as protected open space over the years, the last piece is the house, built in 1866. An older saltbox house once on the property is now gone.
During the Gold Rush of the mid 19th century, family members traveled to California and sold tin wares to prospectors. Stanley still has some of the trunks they used to bring goods over the oceans and through the isthmus of Panama.
“That’s the money that built this house,” she said of the Gold Rush sales.
Growing up, Stanley knew the Marion Avenue property as her grandparents.’ As an adult, Stanley moved from Savannah, Georgia to the home in 1967.
Her older relatives had done little to the place. It hadn’t been painted in 25 years, Stanley remembered, and only a little patch of yard was cleared of brush.
“When we came up we revived it again,” Stanley said of her and her husband.
Packing up has been a major undertaking.
“When you’re living in a house that’s over 150 years old and every generation that has moved out of it has left something — it has not been an easy house (to pack),” Stanley said. “I doubt if this house has ever been empty since it was built.”
While portions of the Upson land have been sold, Stanley is responsible for making sure a large chunk won’t ever be developed.
She sold 30 acres to the town for open space in 2015.
“I am very, very happy that so much of it is part of the Southington open space,” she said. “I’ve been very happy that that has happened, that it won’t be developed.”
Town leaders said the Upson Parcel was a good opportunity to expand the town’s open space.
Paul Chaplinsky, a Town Council member and open space acquisition subcommittee chairman, said the Upsons have left a mark through natural areas that residents can enjoy.
“The town and its residents are grateful for the long heritage of Upson family members in our community,” he said. “Residents will forever be able to enjoy the beauty of the trails and farmland on these Marion Avenue area open space parcels.”
Chaplinsky said the Upsons were also involved in the founding of Southington Country Club in 1922. The town bought the development rights for the golf course several years ago to prevent homes from being built on the land.
Stanley said her home is being bought by someone who was once in a Cub Scout group that she led.
“It’s made it a little bit easier, to know where it’s going,” said Stanley, who has lived in the house for more than five decades.
Later this month, she’ll move with her son and his mother-in-law to Florida, where they’ll all buy a house.
[email protected]: @JBuchananRJ