Twenty years ago today a ceremony to dedicate the Elderslie Preserve on Peck Hill Road took place on the sunny afternoon of September 21, 2002. The mayor of the Village of Elderslie in west central Scotland was the guest of honor and spoke to a small crowd of celebrants. After the ceremony, a bagpiper lead the assembled from ‘Rose Ridge’ (the former Wallace family home) up Peck Hill Road to the entrance of the preserve where a hike of the newly dedicated property was enjoyed by young and old alike (see event photos, below).
Rose Ridge, the site of the dedication ceremony, was built in 1795 by Lazarus Clark (1746-1818) who operated a tavern here which was inherited by his son William H. Clark (1795-1862) and his wife Minerva Higgins (1799-1875). The couple had at least three children, including daughter Hannah Clark (1831 – 1858) who married Delazon Hotchkiss in 1849. Their son Warren Frederick Hotchkiss (1852-1924) was living here with his grandparents after his mother’s death.
Another of William and Minerva’s children, Wilson Hart Clarke (1824-1887), was a well-known attorney and businessman who served on Ansonia’s Common Council and was twice elected to the State Senate. He was the father of four, including youngest daughter Helen Marian Clark (1861-1940). Known as Nellie, she married Thomas H. Wallace III (1860-1947) in 1884, and the couple inherited Rose Ridge. Thomas was the namesake son of Thomas Wallace Jr. (1827-1916) and grandson of Thomas Wallace Sr. (1797-1875) who was born in England.
Orphaned at age 11 Thomas Sr. arrived in America in 1832 and within a decade had settled with his family in Birmingham, Connecticut (an area now known as Ansonia). There he founded ‘Wallace & Sons’ the “famous brass mill” according to the History of New Haven County, volume II, published in 1892. The Wallace family traces its Scottish origins to the village of Elderslie, the traditional birthplace of the bravehearted Sir William Wallace (1270-1305).