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New Canaan Native Made a Fortune, Then Spent It Helping Others

One of Fairfield County's most remarkable residents was profiled Sunday by the Hartford Courant. Here's the article and more about Benjamin Fitch and the home he founded for soldiers and orphans.

Hartford Courant: "Benjamin Fitch and his grand-nephew, Augustus B. Fitch, circa 1860." Photo from Darien Historical Society, as shown on the Hartford Courant website.
Hartford Courant: "Benjamin Fitch and his grand-nephew, Augustus B. Fitch, circa 1860." Photo from Darien Historical Society, as shown on the Hartford Courant website.
Born in New Canaan (apparently), for a time in his childhood he lived in Norwalk, later a Darien resident who also lived in New York City, Benjamin Fitch led a remarkable life and then did remarkably good deeds.

He was born in New Canaan (or maybe New York City -- accounts differ) in 1802 (or 1805 -- accounts differ) and died in 1883. As a child, his parents divorced, and at one point his father took him to Buffalo during the War of 1812, when the child witnessed the burning of the city by the British.

He worked in a New York dry goods store and made his fortune following retail opportunities when the Erie Canal was built. 

He retired early, in the 1850s, then it seems he largely devoted himself to philanthropy. During the Civil War he helped enlist recruits from Darien and helped to found St. Luke's Episcopal Church, where he and his mother are now interred.

On July 4, 1864, Fitch's Home for Soldiers was opened in a ceremony that 3,000 people attended. New York Tribune Editor (and later a candidate for president) Horace Greeley spoke. 

Wee Burn Country Club's first clubhouse was originally in Fitch's former home in Darien.


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